Prostitution In Chicago: Starting Wage $27 Per Hour

Female residents of The Second City have a tremendous Official seal of City of Chicagooccupational opportunity, with earnings of up to $20,000 per year. The job: prostitution. This according to a recent paper by Professor Steve Levitt, the coauthor of Freakonomics. The paper details the economics of prostitution in Chicago. The author’s approach, along with his coauthor Sudhir A. Venkatesh, to the subject is as compelling and elucidative as his investigation into the economics of crack-cocaine dealers, which is covered in the extraordinarily interesting book Freakonomics.

The authors finds, inter alia, that street prostitution yields an average wage of $27 per hour. But before making a momentous career change – this is directed at you ABC – there are a number of disadvantages to the sex trade. For example,

For prostitutes who do not work with pimps (and thus are working the streets), roughly three percent of all their tricks are freebies given to police.


According to our estimates, a woman working as a prostitute would expect an annual average of a dozen incidents of violence and 300 instances of unprotected sex.

That not withstanding, there are ways to increase earning. According to the authors, there are many advantages to having a pimp,

Under the pimp model, there are fewer transactions, but the prices charged are substantially higher and the clientèle is different. Prostitutes who work with pimps appear to earn more, and are less likely to be arrested.

One of the more disturbing conclusion is that,

a prostitute is more likely to have sex with a police officer than to get officially arrested by one.

The authors used data that is available at this web site, which will even display arrests on Google Maps.

yojoe out

P.S. For more from Professor Levitt see Freakonomics blog.

7 Responses

  1. This post proves to me that we should be considering making prostitution legal in the States.
    Legalization would remove the need to work covertly, and the Prostitute would not have to defend her/himself from corrupt Police.

    The work would be licensed and regulated, which would remove the need of having a Pimp for protection.

    The work would conform to normal supply / demand and be compensated accordingly.

    The government would enjoy a new income tax stream.

    Legalizing Prostitution would raise the moral of the workers because they would be able to call themselves ‘law abiding’ citizens, thus raising the moral of the community.


    There are so many things that are legal right now, that are way worse…

  2. Interesting. I would have thought it’d be worse having a pimp than not.

  3. if only they could legally deduct for mileage.

    a girl can’t win. yanno.

  4. i agree with the above stating that prostitution should be legalized. not only would it be safer for women (and men) in regard to physical violence, but also in the prevention of spreading std’s. legal sex workers would also be able to negotiate wages without fear of repercussions from their pimp. i’m sure that it would be something that the government could post a hefty tax on as well… so i guess it would be a win-win…??

  5. There is a slight error in the co-author mentioned.The co-author is Sudhir Venkatesh.


  6. Arun – Thanks for the correction. The change has been made.


  7. I enjoy reading through a post that will make people think. Also, many thanks for permitting me to comment!

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