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8 Factors That Are Lowering the Price of Buying Sex

New Economist report reveals the hourly rate of sex is in steady decline.

A new report released this week by The Economist has provided a stark look into sex work globally to reveal some surprising new economic trends about the world’s oldest profession.   After analyzing 190,000 profiles of sex workers in over 12 countries and 84 cities since 1999, the report found that the hourly price of sex with a female sex worker has been declining steadily in recent years.  In 2006, the average cost of sex was approximately $340, yet almost a decade on, sex can now be purchased for about $260 an hour on average. 

While this reduction has in part been blamed on the financial crisis, here’s a list of eight additional factors cited in the report that have influenced the going rate of commercial sex work today – for better and for worse.

1. Increased Migration

According to The Economist report, large-scale migration is perhaps the greatest reason why sex worker prices have decreased in recent times.  The growing number of sex workers from the Baltic region, Eastern Europe, Nigeria and Thailand has seen the price of sex work fall world-wide as poorer immigrants moving into rich cities tend to demand less money for sex services, especially where the market is closed.  In turn, this has made the going rate harder to sustain. 

In Germany, for example, sex worker prices have been dropping since prostitution became legalized in 2002.   This largely unregulated market which draws some 1.2 million customers daily has seen an influx of migrants mostly from Eastern Europe which has pushed down the hourly rate of pay, making it difficult for locals to compete.  Interestingly, the report contends that once foreign sex workers adapt to the local cost of living, their rates do tend to increase. 

2. Physical Appearance

Not surprisingly, physical attraction matter a great deal when it comes to the purchase of sex, with those who conform to the “stereotypical Western beauty” able to charge the highest hourly rates overall, according to the study.   The Economist reports that the highest earners have a slim to athletic build with long blond hair and full breasts.  In fact, going from flat chested to a D-Cup increases a sex worker’s hourly rate by approximately $40. 

Interestingly, hair that is bleached or looks unnatural attracted a lower rate, but was still overall more marketable than brunettes and redheads. Ethnicity also plays a role when it comes to price, which differs based on location.  For example in America, black women earn less than white women, whereas in Kuala Lumpur, black women command higher rates. 

3. Education

Obtaining a university degree tends to increase a sex worker’s earnings, just as it does for those who work in the conventional labor market.  The report shows that graduates earn on average 31 percent more than non-graduates due to more lucrative working patterns rather than high hourly rates.

“Although sex workers with degrees are less likely to work than others in any given week, suggesting that they are more likely to regard prostitution as a sideline, when they do work they see more clients and for longer. Their clients tend to be older men who seek longer sessions and intimacy, rather than a brief encounter,” the study states.

4.  Inexperience

Now here’s an interesting factor: “newbies” who arrive in the U.S sex industry have a tendency of underpricing themselves due to their novice status.  Consequently, this has dragged down premiums.  In this regard, the report states that in 1988 the price for standard sex services – fellatio and vaginal sex – in Nevada cost around $200 an hour, which with inflation amounts to around $395 today. Yet, according to sex worker and founder of Erotic Service Providers, Maxine Doogan, new sex workers are still charging $200 for those services today and doing far more risky work such as oral sex without condoms, but without charging for the additional services.

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