Comments on an Economic Analysis Paper

Economics of the Public Interest

The Legalization of Prostitution

Prostitution is the "contractual barter of sex favors, usually sexual intercourse, for monetary considerations without any emotional attachment between the partners" (Grauerhold & Koralewski, 1991). Whenever this topic is mentioned, people usually shy away from it, because they are thinking of the actions involved in this profession. [1] The purpose of this paper, however, is not to talk about these services, but to [2] discuss the social, economic and legal issues behind prostitution. [3]

One of my first questions I intended to answer was whether the fact that a woman had been a prostitute would impair her ability to obtain another job. [4] I found out that this [5] is generally not their [6] first career option. In fact, this is sometimes the only job for which these women think they are suitable. Grauerholz and Koralewski (1991) have stated that they generally have low self-esteem and histories of sexual abuse or child neglect. Thus, they have a radical view of how women should behave. [7]

So, does this mean that prostitution should be outlawed? Not necessarily. A woman going by the name of Jane Roe II is attempting to have prostitution legalized in Florida. She's following in the footsteps of the Roe v. Wade decision that made abortion legal because women have "the right to privacy and the right to do with her body as she chooses" (Decker, 1995). Following this interpretation of the decision, why isn't prostitution legal? Jane Roe II started working as a prostitute due to her lack of other choices. She made $800 to $1500 a week, enough to support her children and herself. Should we legalize prostitution just so women can make a greater amount of money? [8]

We can go back and forth about the social issues of prostitution all day. There will always be some against prostitution. Most religious institutions are adamantly against prostitution. Then there are the prostitutes who do it because they don't know what else they should do. Everybody worries about them, but we never do anything to help them. Maybe if we outlaw prostitution, we'll be helping them in some way. Then, there will be those who are for prostitution. The prostitutes themselves, both those that are doing it for the lack of a better paying job and those that are doing it because they have no desire to do anything better with their lives. Also, the people who frequent the prostitutes and the ones in charge of the prostitutes will support them.

"It has been found that there is a direct correlation between the extent of violence against the prostitutes and the level of illegality of the work (Kuo, 2000). [9] I believe there will always be prostitution regardless of what the government does. [10] The more "illegal they make prostitution, the more severe the violence against the prostitutes will be." [11] It seems to me [12] that legalizing prostitution will cause fewer prostitutes to be physically harmed and hence have more of a choice as to for whom they can work. [13]

Legalizing prostitution will allow for greater control over the patrons and the prostitutes. [14] This will regulate the amount of disease allowed in the profession. Proposed legislation in Australia "would require all prostitutes to be formally registered and required to carry identity cards" (Martin, 2003). These ID's would hold information pertaining to the woman's STI status. However, this control and legalization would also make prostitutes known as such, both to their families and to tax officials (Parlour, 1999). A portion of prostitutes hold other jobs and do not want it to be known that they are involved in prostitution. Perhaps a confidentiality system would be needed if prostitution were to be legalized.

The other side of the argument is that "legitimizing the service roles surrounding voluntary prostitution simply grease women's slide into the sex world" (Peratis, 2000). Maybe this is true, but wouldn't the ones who join this work force be likely to join it even if it were illegal? Now, at least, the environment is a little more sanitary and they can have some sense of security. We shouldn't characterize all prostitutes "as victims who are acting against their will and who are controlled by others… These characterizations just make the sex worker even more invisible as a worker" (Peratis, 2000). We should allow prostitutes some dignity in knowing that they had a choice in their profession.

If prostitution were legal, then there would probably be more jobs available. This would help to lower the unemployment rate. With more prostitutes, though, the price for their services would probably fall. If the prices fell substantially, then maybe more women would find other professions more appealing. Perhaps this scenario would help the more motivated women get out of the prostitution industry. Since the number of prostitutes would fall, then the price would raise again. We will never know exactly what the equilibrium price and demand would be without the actual scenario happening.

One thing that could happen if prostitution were to become legal would be the taxing of their business. Sally Richards (2003), of Las Vegas, believes that the taxing of the almost legal prostitution industry would help both their education and healthcare systems. If the benefits of legalizing prostitution seem to outweigh the costs so much, why isn't it legalized? The biggest concern in the United States seems to be the morality of the issue. As Archbishop Hickey says, "The right of a community to be free of licensed prostitution is, by its nature, greater than anyone's right to run a brothel" (Martin, 2003). [15] Some people are so against saying prostitution is ok that they will fight it even if it is legalized. They just don't see the benefits because of the immorality. [16]

Prostitution will occur whether we legalize it or not. The only con to legalizing it seems to be the morality issue. If people can see that there are enough pros to counteract this, maybe prostitution will be legal someday. Legal prostitution could bring in tax revenues, more jobs, more sanitary conditions and maybe even a sense of pride or at least security in the prostitutes. [17]

*References not included.



1. The women involved in prostitution can have many reasons for the choices that they make. The prostitutes and society could, under the right circumstances, both benefit from the legalization of this profession.

2. Eliminate: "however","not",and "talk about these services, but to"

3. Good, but upgrade. This is where you convince the reader to keep reading.

4. Eliminate sentence beginning with "One of my first questions…"

5. Eliminate "I found out that this" and replace is with "prostitution".

6. Replace "their" with "a woman's"

7. Cost?







8. Lots of good info. Organize it into an effective Economic Analysis. Graphs? Supply and demand legal vs. supply and demand illegal? Infinite tax?








9. Costs/benefits of the illegal market?

10. Black markets

11. Especially in black market where nobody in authority knows or cares about the prostitutes.

12. Eliminate: "It seems to me"

13. Formalize


14. Shift supply and demand curves right = greater quantity p?
























15. = Infinite tax?


16. Experience in Holland?




17. Good start. Upgrade the intro and conclusion and organize the information around an economic comparison of benefits and costs.



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