War, Migration and the Origins of the Thai Sex Industry

Abel Brodeur, Warn Lekfuangfu, Yanos Zylberberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
124 Downloads (Pure)


This paper analyzes the determinants behind the spatial distribution of the sex
industry in Thailand. We relate the development of the sex industry to an early
temporary demand shock, i.e., U.S. military presence during the Vietnam War. Comparing the surroundings of Thai military bases used by the U.S. army to districts close to unused Thai bases, we find that there are currently 5 times more commercial sex workers in districts near former U.S. bases. The development of the sex industry is also explained by a high price elasticity of supply due to female migration from regions affected by an agricultural crisis. Finally, we study a consequence induced by the large numbers of sex workers in few red-light districts: the HIV outbreak in the early 1990s.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberjvx037
Pages (from-to)1540–1576
Number of pages37
JournalJournal of the European Economic Association
Issue number5
Early online date9 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018

Structured keywords

  • ECON Applied Economics


  • Persistence
  • Industry location
  • Sex industry


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