Does Competition Eliminate Discrimination? Evidence from the Commercial Sex Market in Singapore
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.
We are very grateful to Claudia Olivetti, Andrew Oswald, Johannes Schmieder and seminar participants at the Asian meeting of the Econometrics Society, Boston University, Georgetown University (Doha), Nanyang Technological University, the National University of Singapore, the Singapore Economic Review Conference, Cornell University, Duke University and NBER Labor Studies for their helpful comments. Leong also thanks Nanyang Technological University for start-up funding and its support for this research while Lang acknowledges funding from the National Science Foundation under grant SES-1260197. The usual caveat applies. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Huailu Li & Kevin Lang & Kaiwen Leong, 2018. "Does Competition Eliminate Discrimination? Evidence from the Commercial Sex Market in Singapore," The Economic Journal, vol 128(611), pages 1570-1608. citation courtesy of