Why Bawdy House Provisions?

I’m a political economist interested in regulatory policy, and my general argument is that regulation tends to distort markets and create perverse incentives.  Canada’s Bawdy House Provisions are a classic example.  An exchange of sex for money in Canada is not illegal, but most of the accompanying activities that make that exchange possible are illegal, including brothels, aka bawdy houses.  The perverse effect is to push prostitution to the street, where it is more dangerous for the prostitutes.  Canadian sex workers recently challenged the law, resulting in a 2010 Ontario Supreme Court ruling that struck down the prohibitions, based on the Canadian constitutional right to “liberty and security,” a satisfyingly libertarianish outcome.  The title is not meant to glorify sex work, but to mock regulations that purport to protect people while actually causing them harm.  Besides, it’s just a great title.

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2 Responses to Why Bawdy House Provisions?

  1. Lance says:

    “…my general argument is that regulation tends to distort markets and create perverse incentives.”

    You’ll get no argument from me.

    So Canada has never had any legal prohibition of exchanging sex for money? One wonders why, given that the intent of the laws they have passed seem designed to stop prostitution.

    I’ll try to keep from getting tossed out of your bawdy house. Although a quick look around the place reveals darn few ladies for a place with such a name.

  2. Matty says:

    The interesting question is whether this title will repel or attract the infamous Rule 34?

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