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Escorts and GDP , an impossible equation

Economists have attempted to theorize prostitution. A failure!

Prostitution is not just a social issue , it is also an economic issue. The proof ? In September 2006 , the Greek government, which was already suspected at the time by Eurostat to fake its public accounts , proposed to Brussels to reassess the country's GDP to 25 % by including the revenues generated by the underground economy, and mainly incomes from escorts (Brussels has been a little bit confused and Greek GDP had ultimately been revised upwards by only 9.6 %).

The main problem faced by economists when they are trying to focus with some serious industry of escorts, is that they do not have reliable static. According to unofficial sources , sex tourism represent 5% of GDP in the Netherlands and 14% in Thailand. Even in a country like Germany, where prostitution is legal , with those who excercise a recognized status of " self-employed or employed in an institution " , entitled to unemployment insurance, the estimated number of people working in the sector vary doubled : from 200,000 to 400,000 . Even worldwide , with a number of prostitutes estimated at between 20 and 40 million. Regarding the total billing of "escorts" , he would approach in Germany € 15 billion but would reach € 18 billion in Spain ( 3 billion in France ) , the amounts are too high when compared to global revenues of prostitution who feel has "only" 100 billion euros ( and compare for example to the € 212 billion in 2012 for the luxury industry).

The second problem is that the economic approach to escorts is biased by ideological considerations . In a report , the Scelles Foundation , whose aim is to fight against sexual exploitation , estimates that " proxénete is a copy capitalist " and sees " the prostitution as the worst outcome of liberal logic." This is also the opinion of sociologist Richard Poulin , who " neoliberal globalization is dominant in today's booming escorts and trafficking of women and children for prostitution factor . The industry is at the confluence of capitalist market relations and the oppression of women , two phenomens closely intertwined . "

In a Marxist reading , sociologist Dimitra Zorgiannou seen even in prostitution a symbol of the current organization of the working world , where " casualization requires the worker or prostitute to be " flexible " and meet the requirements of each boss or client. Companies of temporal jobs, which " hire " workers , the fact that workers are consumables according to the market needs remind the basic features of the world of escort and prostitution . "

All across the idéologuique spectrum, we find economists that are thinking that the escorts market should be studied in an amoral and objective way , like any market, based on competition law and the supply and demande who controlate it . Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner , authors of the bestseller " Freakonomics " and " SuperFreakonomics " compare the pimp to a real estate agent whose job is to promote the best possible their products to potential consumers. They also observe that the escort industry has suffered greatly over the past decades , not because of relocation , but because of changing habits and sexual freedom of women. In Chicago, 20 % of men born between 1933 and 1942 had their first sexual experience with an escort . But men born twenty years later were no more than 5% in this case. " If prostitution is an industry like any other, Levitt and Dubner explain , prostitutes and escorts could hire lobbyists to fight against unfair competition from premarital sex. They would have push to criminalize this activity or to a heavy tax . "

Another subject of study, the adaptacion of escort services prices passes depending on the application (benefits , social or ethnic origin of the customer ... ) . Still in Chicago, every year a spike of sexual consumption is experienced during the Independence Day July 4 , encouraging prostitutes to increase that day their prices by 30% and extend their working hours .

To be honest , none of these two economic visions of prostitution - or anti-liberal libertarian , is convincing and illuminating to answer the question of how best to grant it legal status . Nor that sees escort to be a consequence of neoliberal globalization - oldest profession in the world existed long before the accession of China to the WTO. Or which tends instead to make it a commercial activity like any other, trivializing and ignoring constraints and violence suffered by a large number of escorts and ignores millions of wasted lives .

There are issues hard to resolve for economists.....



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In this time of crisis that we have been dragging, and with the great fall that the tax collection has suffered, which has caused debates on the sustainability of our pension system and its reform, the financing deficit of the autonomous communities and municipalities have derived in an asphyxiating fiscal pressure. Thus, the debate on the legalization of prostitution.

To illustrate the situation better, we will see the numbers that the prostitution sector manages. The estimated amount of this is 3.500 million euros per year, which represents 0.35% of the national GDP. To give you an idea, this supposes a volume similar to the footwear industry in Spain or to the contribution of the city of Malaga.

Have in mind that in Spain there are about 100,000 escorts, although only 20% of these escorts girls are Spanish. It is estimated that 39% of Spaniards have paid for having sex ever, with an average annual expenditure of 1,530 euros. That is, we spend much more on sex than on car insurance, buying fruit or vegetables. The 66% of the escorts girls practice in a brothel, to compare with the remaining 33%, that does it in the street.

To end with this battery of data, only 5% are luxury escorts. Now is when the question arises, should we regulate the sector? This is one of the largest money movements in the country, which could contribute to the desired increase in tax collection.

Why is it legal to sell tobacco if it generates thousands of deaths and illnesses a year, spending millions of euros on campaigns to stop smoking and generates a huge expenditure on public health? The tax reason seems enough to allow it to be legal to smoke. Now we come to see, briefly, the Dutch model, where prostitution was legalized in the year 2000 and already have extensive experience.

In the Netherlands, the sector moves the 2,500 million euros, that is to say to 0.4% of the GDP, surpassing to the mythical Dutch cheese sector. The legalization of prostitution was coming at the same time than laws against sexual abuse and protection of minors. Prostitution has been banned on the streets and can only be done in rooms equipped for this purpose, each escort girl has to pay for private health insurance, like any Dutch worker. As taxes are paid for this activity, the system is controlled through a licensing system, and final regulation is given to the cities. At the sametime than this legalization, any means of sexual exploitation is considered an offense punishable by imprisonment and the legal age for engaging in prostitution was raised from 18 to 21.

Clubs, escorts girls' agencies, X rooms, couples bars, or prostitution in private homes are allowed and regulated by a licensing system, and only in 13 Dutch cities are the famous showcases allowed, such as the famous of the Red Light district of Amsterdam.

Any companion has the right for social and health care and even to participate in a program of social reintegration for those who want to abandon prostitution, and municipalities are obliged to guarantee these rights as issuers of the corresponding licenses.

With all these data and comparing the two models, you can see the similarity of figures between countries, but while in Holland they contribute as another sector and are protected by law, having the right to social benefits and pensions, in Spain, escorts and prostitutes are left in the helplessness and at the mercy of mafias and sexual exploiters.

For all this, it would be useful to reflect deeply on whether the legalization of the sector is more convenient for all. .