Conference of the European Sociological Association edition:9 location:Lisbon date:2-5 September 2009
This paper investigates the determinants of unsafe sexual practices in prostitution with the help of a large dataset of clients’ self-reported commercial sexual transactions. The main aspects that are investigated are the roles played by clients’ preferences, the price of the transactions, the segment of the market and the city or region where the commercial sexual transaction takes place. The significance of the latter may be an indicator of the intended and unintended effects of national and city policies on prostitution markets in the Low Countries. A quite exceptional and large dataset was constructed based upon the reports of clients of their experiences of encounters in the sex markets of Belgium and the Netherlands. Thereby reports of the whole gamut of market segments in commercial sex are included: soliciting, window prostitution, brothels, clubs, massage parlours, escort services and call girls. The starting point consists of an analysis of the price-fixing elements of paid sexual encounters. With the help of the so-called ‘hedonic pricing method’ the paper retrieves the most important factors determining prices in prostitution. Thereby particular attention is paid to those factors that are either directly created by regulation or policy and to factors that are relevant to policy, such as the differences in structure of the prostitution market in different cities.