Scott Cunningham, Does Decriminalization of Indoor Prostitution Reduce Sexually Transmitted Infections? Evidence from the Rhode Island Experiment
Tuesday, April 23, 2013 from 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM (EDT)
Most governments in the world including the United States prohibit prostitution due to the public health risks associated with sex markets. Given these types of laws rarely change and are fairly uniform across regions, our knowledge about the impact of decriminalizing indoor sex work is largely conjectural and based on correlational analysis. We exploit the fact that a Rhode Island District Court judge decriminalized indoor prostitution in 2003 to provide causal estimates of the impact of decriminalization on the composition of the sex market (size, supply, and price) and population STI outcomes. We show that decriminalization of the indoor sex market decreased police arrests of prostitutes, increased indoor prostitution advertising, and expanded the size of the indoor prostitution market itself. We also find decriminalization caused female (male) gonorrhea to decline 61 (27) percent from 2004 to 2009. Our synthetic control model nds that 1,215 fewer cases of female gonorrhea occurred from 2003 to 2009 as a result of decriminalization.
Scott Cunningham is an assistant professor of economics at Baylor University. He specializes in the study of illicit and illegal markets, such as modern-day prostitution markets and domestic methamphetamine markets. He also studies two-sided matching markets and risky sexual behavior.
When & Where
Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS at Yale University
CIRA is supported by National Institute of Mental Health Grant No. P30MH062294.
Paul D. Cleary, Ph.D., Principal Investigator