Thursday, May 1, 2014

Urban Institute Issues New Pimps & Prostitutes Study

Last month the Urban Institute (UI) released an intriguing report titled "Estimating the Size and Structure of the Underground Commercial Sex Economy in Eight Major US Cities."

So, how much does a pimp make?  According to the think tank study, pimps and traffickers take home between $5,000 and $32,833 per week.  So in one year, they would make between $260,000 and $1.7 million.  In other words, some would make more money than even the highest paid think tank heads.

Here is the abstract of the report:
The underground commercial sex economy (UCSE) generates millions of dollars annually, yet investigation and data collection remain under resourced. Our study aimed to unveil the scale of the UCSE in eight major US cities—Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Kansas City, Miami, Seattle, San Diego, and Washington, DC. Across cities, the UCSE's worth was estimated between $39.9 and $290 million in 2007, but decreased since 2003 in all but two cities. Interviews with pimps, traffickers, sex workers, child pornographers, and law enforcement revealed the dynamics central to the underground commercial sex trade—and shaped the policy suggestions to combat it.

The full 339-page report, which was funded by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ; a research/development/evaluation agency of the US Department of Justice), can be read here.  And here is an easy-to-read summary of key findings.

The report got tons of media attention.  After all, sex sells.

Here is what Slate says about the sex-work study.  Here is what The New York Times says about the think tank study.  Here is what Bloomberg BusinessWeek says about the study.  Here is Gawker's take on the study.  Here is The Atlantic's take on the study.  Here is what The Washington Post says.

In related Urban Institute news, the think tank has a new study showing that declining marriage rates suggest a growing fraction of millennials will remain unmarried through age 40.  Vox summarizes key findings of that study in four charts.

The Urban Institute was recently ranked as the 24th best think tank in the United States in the annual University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings.  Urban Institute was also ranked as the second best social policy think tank, only behind the Brookings Institution.

The Urban Institute was established in 1968 by the Lyndon B. Johnson Administration to study the US's urban problems.  Today, federal government contracts provide about 55% of the think tank's operating funds.  Here is a list of Urban Institute's funders.