Discussion Paper Details

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Title: Prostitution and Violence: Evidence from Sweden

Author(s): Giovanni Immordino, Maria Perrotta Berlin, Francesco Russo and Giancarlo Spagnolo

Publication Date: August 2020

Keyword(s): Asymmetric sanctions, COVID-19, Domestic violence, Policy spillovers, Prohibition, Prostitution, Regulation and Sex markets

Programme Area(s): Industrial Organization and Public Economics

Abstract: The Swedish law on prostitution criminalizes buyers but not sellers of sexual services and has been credited with reducing street prostitution significantly while protecting sex workers. As a consequence, this "Nordic model" is spreading rapidly around the world, but as yet there has not been any rigorous evaluation of its effects on sex market participants or on society at large. We document an increase in violence against women following the law's introduction, ascribable mostly to domestic violence rather than violence against sex workers. We propose a model that rationalizes our findings and simulates the effects of alternative policies. The results also suggest that the lockdown on prostitution markets may have been one determinant of the surge in domestic violence observed during the Covid-19 crisis.

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Bibliographic Reference

Immordino, G, Perrotta Berlin, M, Russo, F and Spagnolo, G. 2020. 'Prostitution and Violence: Evidence from Sweden'. London, Centre for Economic Policy Research.