Does Competition Eliminate Discrimination? Evidence from the Commercial Sex Market in Singapore

37 Pages Posted: 2 Feb 2015 Last revised: 20 Feb 2021

See all articles by Huailu Li

Huailu Li

Fudan University, School of Economics

Kevin Lang

Boston University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Kaiwen Leong

Nanyang Technological University (NTU)

Date Written: January 2015

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

Li, Huailu and Lang, Kevin and Leong, Kaiwen, Does Competition Eliminate Discrimination? Evidence from the Commercial Sex Market in Singapore (January 2015). NBER Working Paper No. w20911, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2558963

Huailu Li (Contact Author)

Fudan University, School of Economics ( email )

Han Dan Lu 220 Hao, 11 Hao Lou, 128 Shi
Shanghai, Shanghai 200433
China

Kevin Lang

Boston University - Department of Economics ( email )

270 Bay State Road
Boston, MA 02215
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Kaiwen Leong

Nanyang Technological University (NTU) ( email )

S3 B2-A28 Nanyang Avenue
Singapore, 639798
Singapore

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