Would sex work be so profitable if it weren't stigmatized or criminalized?

Amber Rhea's picture

This is a question that's been bouncing around in my mind for a few days:

"Would sex work be so profitable if it weren't stigmatized or criminalized?"

Example:

Sex work is often an attractive option for single mothers, because they can earn more money and (sometimes) work fewer hours than they would at a retail or other service industry job, thereby allowing them greater economic stability and more time with their children. But to what extent is this attributable to the stigmatized – and, with prostitution specifically, criminalized – nature of sex work?

I think that if sex work were decriminalized and de-stigmatized, it would still offer attractive, competitive pay, for the same reasons that other professions that require specialized skills or training come with higher compensation – e.g., lawyers, doctors, etc. (No jokes about lawyers being stigmatized!) I do not think that if prostitution were decriminalized, for example, tons of women would suddenly flock to the profession; that argument holds about as much water as the argument that making emergency contraception available over the counter will encourage promiscuity.

However, I am curious to hear what others think about this question.