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ON THE ECONOMIC DETERMINANTS OF PROSTITUTION: MARRIAGE COMPENSATION AND UNILATERAL DIVORCE IN U.S. STATES

Ciacci, Riccardo (2018): ON THE ECONOMIC DETERMINANTS OF PROSTITUTION: MARRIAGE COMPENSATION AND UNILATERAL DIVORCE IN U.S. STATES.

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Abstract

This paper studies the hypothesis that marriage opportunities are an economic determinant of female prostitution. I exploit differences in the timing of entry into force of unilateral divorce laws across U.S. states to explore the effect of such laws on female prostitution (proxied by arrests of female prostitutes). Using a difference-indifference estimation approach, I find that unilateral divorce reduces prostitution by 10%. My results suggest that unilateral divorce improves the option value of marriage by increasing wives’ welfare. As a result, the opportunity cost of becoming a female prostitute increases and the supply of prostitution declines.

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