Prostitution Isn't As Common As You Might Think

Spencer Platt/Getty ImagesPaying for sex isn’t nearly as common place as most people think, new research indicates. They also found that people who seek out sex for money aren’t much different than your average person — there’s no peculiarities in their personalities.

About 1.5 per cent of men in their 40s have paid for sex in the last year. And 23.3 per cent of men who have served in the military have visited prostitutes at some point during active duty. In general 14 per cent of men have paid for sex in their lifetime, but only 1 per cent have in the past year.

Although paying for sex is often hyped up, research indicates that fewer men are paying for sex now than they used to. The researchers used data from the national General Social Survey and compared it to a group of “hobbyists” who solicit sex on the internet ( and a group of people who have been arrested for soliciting prostitutes.

When compared to people who didn’t visit prostitutes, men from the natural survey were somewhat less likely to be white, somewhat less likely to be working full-time, more likely to be unemployed, and slightly less likely to consider extramarital sex as wrong. National customers were slightly less likely to be married (a difference echoed among the offender sample) but also less likely to report never having been married.

The men who visited The Erotic Review, are:

  • More likely to be White (84.9 per cent).
  • More likely to report having completed an undergraduate (37.9 per cent) or postgraduate degree (41.2 per cent).
  • They reported having significantly higher salaries than all other groups. While only about 20 per cent of the other men reported salaries of US$60,000 or above, more than 80 per cent of the hobbyists did, with 43.1 per cent reporting annual salaries above US$120,000.
  • Hobbyists were more likely to be married (62.4 per cent),
  • They are more sexually liberal, and reported having far more partners than all other groups. Interestingly, though they reported having more partners, they were less likely than men from the other samples to be among the men having sex four or more times per week.

These are pretty normal people, all in all. The study shows that there’s no certain type of man who goes to prostitutes. By and all these are just normal people.

The researchers write in the paper, published in the Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology on March 22, that “for occasional customers, prostitution use may be more a product of situation and availability than a product of basic personality features or psychological characteristics.”

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