Journal article


Lisa Cameron, Jennifer Seager, Manisha Shah

The Quarterly Journal of Economics | OXFORD UNIV PRESS INC | Published : 2021


We examine the impact of criminalizing sex work, exploiting an event in which local officials unexpectedly criminalized sex work in one district in East Java, Indonesia, but not in neighboring districts. We collect data from female sex workers and their clients before and after the change. We find that criminalization increases sexually transmitted infections among female sex workers by 58 percent, measured by biological tests. This is driven by decreased condom access and use. We also find evidence that criminalization decreases earnings among women who left sex work due to criminalization and decreases their ability to meet their children's school expenses while increasing the likelihood t..

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Awarded by Australian Research Council

Awarded by Center for HIV Identification, Prevention, and Treatment (CHIPTS) NIMH grant

Funding Acknowledgements

We thank participants at Dartmouth, CU Denver, George Washington University, LSE, Princeton, PUC-Rio, FGV-Sao Paulo, UC Irvine, USC, University of Melbourne, University of Virginia, University of Western Australia, Australian National University, UNSW, and APPAM for their valuable comments and feedback, and Gabriela Rubio for excellent research assistance. We gratefully acknowledge funding for this project from the Australian Research Council (grant no. DP110101634) and the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab Southeast Asia (JPAL SEA). Shah's work was also supported by the Center for HIV Identification, Prevention, and Treatment (CHIPTS) NIMH grant P30 MH058107-21. Data for this project were collected in partnership with SurveyMETER, whom we thank for their many invaluable suggestions in the field.