A new study by Freakanomics guru Steven Levitt comes to some uncomfortable conclusions about prostitution in Chicago. First, Levitt finds that prostitutes are more likely to have sex with city police than they are to be arrested by them:
They estimate that roughly 3 percent of all tricks performed by prostitutes who aren't working with pimps are freebies given to police to avoid arrest. In fact, prostitutes get officially arrested only once per 450 tricks or so, leading the authors to conclude that "a prostitute is more likely to have sex with a police officer than to get officially arrested by one."
When freebies given to gang members are factored in, about one in 20 tricks go solely for protection and the "privilege" of plying their trade.
Just as with recent studies of Mexican and Indian prostitutes, Levitt and Venkatesh find that payments go up substantially when condoms aren't used. And plenty of johns are apparently happy to pay the premium: Condoms only get used about 20 percent of the time, the authors estimate.
So every one of these problems is the result of prostitution being illegal, no? In Nevada's legal brothels, condom use is 100 percent. There's no "protection sex" for crooked cops or gang members, and there hasn't been a single case of HIV since 1988.