School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Nanyang Technological University
14 Nanyang Drive
NBER Working Papers and Publications
|January 2015||Does Competition Eliminate Discrimination? Evidence from the Commercial Sex Market in Singapore|
with Huailu Li, Kevin Lang: w20911
The street sex worker market in Geylang, Singapore is highly competitive. Clients can search legally at negligible cost. Sex workers discriminate based on client ethnicity despite an excess supply of sex workers. Workers are more (less) likely to approach and ask a higher (lower) price of Caucasians (Bangladeshis), based on their perceived willingness to pay. They avoid Indians, set a significantly higher price and are less likely to reach an agreement with them, suggesting that Indians face taste discrimination. These findings remain even after controlling for prostitute fixed effects and are consistent with the workers' self-reported attitudes and beliefs.