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Journal ArticleDOI

How does public policy impact trafficking victimization?: An exact matching study in the EU

TL;DR: In this article , the authors present a new dataset of trafficking in human beings (THB) victims observed in each EU member state per year and by type of exploitation going back as far as 2001 and employ exact matching methods to test the link between different prostitution policies and Roma secondary education attainment rates on observed THB victimization.
Abstract: Abstract Trafficking in human beings (THB) is a widespread, transnational issue in the European Union (EU). Member states act as source, transit, and destination countries for intra-EU trafficking, in addition to being a major destination region for external THB victims. This study presents a new dataset of THB victims observed in each EU member state per year and by type of exploitation going back as far as 2001 and employs exact matching methods to test the link between different prostitution policies and Roma secondary education attainment rates on observed THB victimization. The paper also builds off previous literature to compare how different legal prostitution models and THB supply factors are expected to influence various types of THB. The results indicate that legalized prostitution and lower educational attainment among the Roma community increase observed THB victimization, especially THB for the purpose of sexual exploitation. The paper does not find that the Swedish model significantly increases or decreases observed THB victimization. In demonstrating how matching methods can be utilized to uncover policy patterns in THB outcomes, this study provides a blueprint for how other hidden phenomena, such as corruption or migration, can be robustly and empirically tested.

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References
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Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: A unified approach is proposed that makes it possible for researchers to preprocess data with matching and then to apply the best parametric techniques they would have used anyway and this procedure makes parametric models produce more accurate and considerably less model-dependent causal inferences.
Abstract: Although published works rarely include causal estimates from more than a few model specifications, authors usually choose the presented estimates from numerous trial runs readers never see. Given the often large variation in estimates across choices of control variables, functional forms, and other modeling assumptions, how can researchers ensure that the few estimates presented are accurate or representative? How do readers know that publications are not merely demonstrations that it is possible to find a specification that fits the author's favorite hypothesis? And how do we evaluate or even define statistical properties like unbiasedness or mean squared error when no unique model or estimator even exists? Matching methods, which offer the promise of causal inference with fewer assumptions, constitute one possible way forward, but crucial results in this fast-growing methodological literature are often grossly misinterpreted. We explain how to avoid these misinterpretations and propose a unified approach that makes it possible for researchers to preprocess data with matching (such as with the easy-to-use software we offer) and then to apply the best parametric techniques they would have used anyway. This procedure makes parametric models produce more accurate and considerably less model-dependent causal inferences.

3,601 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: MatchIt implements a wide range of sophisticated matching methods, making it possible to greatly reduce the dependence of causal inferences on hard-to-justify, but commonly made, statistical modeling assumptions.
Abstract: MatchIt implements the suggestions of Ho, Imai, King, and Stuart (2007) for improving parametric statistical models by preprocessing data with nonparametric matching methods. MatchIt implements a wide range of sophisticated matching methods, making it possible to greatly reduce the dependence of causal inferences on hard-to-justify, but commonly made, statistical modeling assumptions. The software also easily fits into existing research practices since, after preprocessing data with MatchIt , researchers can use whatever parametric model they would have used without MatchIt , but produce inferences with substantially more robustness and less sensitivity to modeling assumptions. MatchIt is an R program, and also works seamlessly with Zelig .

3,012 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In Sweden, the Law that Prohibits the Purchase of Sexual Services came into force on January 1, 1999 as discussed by the authors, which is the first attempt by a country to address the root cause of prostitution and trafficking in beings: the demand, the men who assume the right to purchase persons for prostitution purposes.
Abstract: After several years of public debate initiated by the Swedish women’s movement, the Law That Prohibits the Purchase of Sexual Services came into force on January 1, 1999. The Law is the first attempt by a country to address the root cause of prostitution and trafficking in beings: the demand, the men who assume the right to purchase persons for prostitution purposes. This ground breaking law is a cornerstone of Swedish efforts to create a contemporary, democratic society where women and girls can live lives free of all forms of male violence. In combination with public education, awareness-raising campaigns, and victim support, the Law and other legislation establish a zero tolerance policy for prostitution and trafficking in human beings. When the buyers risk punishment, the number of men who buy prostituted persons decreases, and the local prostitution markets become less lucrative. Traffickers will then choose other and more profitable destinations.

259 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this article, the authors investigate the impact of legalized prostitution on human trafficking inflows and show that the scale effect dominates the substitution effect, leading to an expansion of the prostitution market, increasing human trafficking and reducing demand for trafficked women.
Abstract: This paper investigates the impact of legalized prostitution on human trafficking inflows. According to economic theory, there are two opposing effects of unknown magnitude. The scale effect of legalized prostitution leads to an expansion of the prostitution market, increasing human trafficking, while the substitution effect reduces demand for trafficked women as legal prostitutes are favored over trafficked ones. Our empirical analysis for a cross-section of up to 150 countries shows that the scale effect dominates the substitution effect. On average, countries where prostitution is legal experience larger reported human trafficking inflows.

183 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this paper, the authors show that trafficking of persons for commercial sexual exploitation (as proxied by the data sets they are using) is least prevalent in countries where prostitution is illegal, most prevalent in country where prostitution was legalized, and in between in those countries that prostitution is legal but procuring illegal.
Abstract: International trafficking in humans for sexual exploitation is an economic activity driven by profit motives. Laws regarding commercial sex influence the profitability of trafficking and may thus affect the inflow of trafficking to a country. Using two recent sources of European cross country data we show that trafficking of persons for commercial sexual exploitation (as proxied by the data sets we are using) is least prevalent in countries where prostitution is illegal, most prevalent in countries where prostitution is legalized, and in between in those countries where prostitution is legal but procuring illegal. Case studies of two countries (Norway and Sweden) that have criminalized buying sex support the possibility of a causal link from harsher prostitution laws to reduced trafficking. Although the data do not allow us to infer robust causal inference, the results suggest that criminalizing procuring, or going further and criminalizing buying and/or selling sex, may reduce the amount of trafficking to a country.

147 citations

Trending Questions (1)
Does legalized prostitution increase human trafficking?

The paper states that the baseline results provide evidence in favor of the hypothesis that legalized prostitution increases the quantity of observed sexual exploitation human trafficking victims.