August 12, 2014

MORE BANG FOR YOUR BUCK: How Technology Is Shaking Up The Oldest Profession. “Now specialist websites and apps are allowing information to flow between buyer and seller, making it easier to strike mutually satisfactory deals. The sex trade is becoming easier to enter and safer to work in: prostitutes can warn each other about violent clients, and do background and health checks before taking a booking. Personal web pages allow them to advertise and arrange meetings online; their clients’ feedback on review sites helps others to proceed with confidence. . . . Appearance matters a great deal. The customers who reported encounters to the website we analysed clearly value the stereotypical features of Western beauty: women they describe as slim but not scrawny, or as having long blonde hair or full breasts, can charge the highest hourly rates (see chart 3). Hair that is bleached too unconvincingly to be described as blonde attracts a lower premium, but is still more marketable than any other colour. For those not naturally well endowed, breast implants may make economic sense: going from flat-chested to a D-cup increases hourly rates by approximately $40, meaning that at a typical price of $3,700, surgery could pay for itself after around 90 hours. The 12% share of women featured on the site who are described both as athletic, slim or thin, and as being at least a D-cup, suggests that quite a few have already taken this route.”

But immigration drives down wages for providers, here as everywhere.