Regulating Sex Markets: Lessons Learned and Policy Implications


Thursday, October 14, 2021, 12:00pm


Virtual Event (Registration Required)

Register here to receive the Zoom link.

In this seminar, Shah will discuss the main types of regulatory frameworks that governments and policy makers implement across the globe to regulate sex markets, and will present some of the latest causal evidence about what we know (and do not know!) regarding the impacts of these various regulatory frameworks. She will focus on recent research studying 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. They collect data from female sex workers and their clients before and after the change and find that criminalization increased sexually transmitted infections among female sex workers by 58 percent, measured by biological tests. They also find that criminalization decreased earnings among women who left sex work due to criminalization and decreased their ability to meet children’s school expenses while increasing the likelihood that children begin working to supplement household income.

Please note that the event organizers prohibit any attendees, including journalists, from audio/visual recording or distributing parts or all of the event program without prior written authorization.


Professor Manisha Shah is one of the leading global researchers on the economics of sex markets. She also undertakes research focused on improving child and adolescent health and education. The goal of her research agenda is to identify more effective policies and programs to positively impact health and education outcomes globally. Shah is Professor of Public Policy at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and Founding Director of the Global Lab for Research in Action. She is an economist whose primary research and teaching interests lie at the intersection of applied microeconomics, health, and international development. Shah’s work spans multiple countries – including Tanzania, Indonesia, India, Ecuador, Mexico, and the United States – and has been supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the World Bank, and the National Science Foundation among others. Shah serves as Faculty Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), Faculty Affiliate for the Center for Effective Global Action (CEGA), Editor at the Journal of Health Economics, and Associate Editor at the Review of Economics and Statistics.