The sex industry is now larger than the housebuilding one


Cathering Hakim has a wonderful paper on the sex industry over at the IEA, a paper that contains this delightful fact:

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) estimates that the sex industry in Britain adds £4.3 billion (US$6.9 billion) per year to the economy (more than the amount spent on the construction of houses in the first decade of the 21st century), and adds over 0.4 per cent to national GDP.

Which gives a useful insight into how silly this idea of making the purchase of sex illegal is (the "Swedish Model"). No good at all is going to come from criminalising an economic sector of that size, not when it's almost entirely the activities of consenting adults making it up.

Our point about prostitution has always been that, however much it may be not to our taste as an activity, it is the actions of consenting adults and as such it's something that a free and liberal society will leave alone.

Hakim's paper is worth reading not only for its good sense. It also manages to trample on a number of sacred assumptions common about sexuality:

Nonetheless, the plethora of nationally representative sex surveys carried out around the world in the two decades 1990-2010 greatly increased information on sexual practices and sexual markets (Wellings et al. 2006). For example, national surveys show that the vast majority of men and women self-identify and act as heterosexuals: 97 per cent in Britain, the USA, Australia, Scandinavia and Western Europe generally. The tiny sexual minorities that are often the focus of attention in academic sexuality research and journals do not affect patterns in the majority heterosexual market. The sex survey results demolished many misconceptions, new and old (Vaccaro 2003; Hakim 2015). One supposed ‘myth’ that was shown to be a continuing solid reality in the 21st century, long after the contraceptive revolution, is the idea that men typically have stronger libidos than women (Hakim 2015). Male demand for sexual entertainments and activity greatly outstrips female sexual interest, even in liberal cultures. This gives women an edge, although many are still unaware of it.

Yes, this is a fairly common economic view. If you're the supplier of something in short supply then you do indeed have an edge over those who are seeking it. The paper's worth the fun of reading just to see quite so many modern beliefs being discarded as untruths.

The final recommendation we thoroughly agree with: the sex industry should not only remain legal many of the current restrictions upon it should be lifted. but with this paper there's also great joy in the way that the points are argued.