Research Report

Estimating the Size and Structure of the Underground Commercial Sex Economy in Eight Major US Cities

In 2010, the National Institute of Justice funded the Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center to measure the size and structure of the underground commercial sex economy in eight major US cities. No reliable data exist to help policymakers understand the underground commercial sex trade networks or the ways these networks interact with one another. In addition, there is no information regarding the relationship between the UCSE and the local commercial sex trade or commercial sex activity conducted over the Internet. This study aimed to close the gap in our understanding about the nature and extent of these activities.