Friday, October 03, 2008

Is High-End Prostitution an Inferior Good?

Very interesting article from Slate, by Sudhir Venkatesh:
But bad times seem not so bad either, at least in the short run. After the dot-com bubble burst and again in late 2006 when the housing market began to flatten, the high-end women I interviewed in New York and Chicago reported upticks in business. Their clients were coming to them for a mix of escape and encouragement. As Jean, a New Yorker and a 35-year-old former paralegal turned "corporate escort" (her description) told me, "I had about two dozen men who started doubling their visits with me. They couldn't face their wives, who were bitching about the fact they lost income. Men want to be men. All I did was make them feel like they could go back out there with their head up." (Like most of the sex workers I interviewed, Jean was concerned about her participation in an illegal trade and asked that only her first name be used.)
...
In my study, approximately half of the sex workers I have been following (150) work in the high-end sector. Nearly all of them tell me that this pattern of increased activity following an economic downturn lasts about six to eight months.

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