The Canberra Times today carries a front page story with the heading "25pc of prostitutes students, says sex industry" (the CT’s website is generally a day out of date, so check here on Monday). As Andrew Norton has pointed out, this story gets written biennially, but the tone of this one is less critical of the phenomenon.

Another way of viewing it, which the journalist doesn’t mention, is that this might reflect the large number of prostitutes who are gaining skills to move out of the industry – suggesting that for a reasonable number of people, prostitution is a stepping stone job, rather than a dead end job. If you assume that prostitution will always exist, with some fixed level of demand, one might argue that it was better for people to stay in the industry for shorter periods.*

* Having thought about it for a while, I’m not sure what the socially optimal level of turnover is in prostitution – I’d be happy to get others’ thoughts on this. Of course, if you think prostitution should be illegal, this is a moot point.

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3 Responses to Prostitution

  1. Andrew Norton says:

    Prostitution is an industry that favours the young, so there would be logic in prostitutes acquiring other skills at they age and become less attractive to potential clients. However, my hunch is that women who were already prostitutes before they became uni students would be a small group, since prostitution is most attractive to those with poor alternative career prospects, while generally people bright enough to go to university ought to be able to make something of themselves with or without a degree. Perhaps TAFE courses for semi-related occupations (masseur, beautician, etc) might be more likely than university.

  2. spog says:

    If the measure of making something of oneself is the $ earned, then the article, and other accounts I’ve read, suggest it measures up well.

    Maybe it’s more like a sporting “career” – pack in high earnings while fit and healthy.

  3. Mug Punter says:

    Speaking as some who been punting for over 25 years all over Australia, my experience is that Canberra has always been something of an oddity in that the working ladies (WLs) there have always tended to be younger than those found in the other capitals – and the ones that I’ve seen whilst in Canberra have all been students at one insto or another.

    WLs tend to be smarter than average – especially those doing escort work as opposed to parlour workers – you very rarely find anyone from the occupations suggested by Andrew L. Nurses, travel agents, receptionists, clerical workers, programmers abound.

    Age actually does not seem to be a barrier. Many WLs are well into their forties. As Pope wrote,

    “Men some to business, some to pleasure take;
    But every woman is at heart a rake…”

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