Network analysis of the market for male sex work


Dr. Trevon Logan, Department of Economics
Rank at time of award: Associate Professor

Objectives and Significance to Population and Health Research

This seed grant proposal has three objectives. (1) To develop a network dataset from an online review source of males sex workers (MSWs) in the United States, (2) to use the network data developed in (1) to demonstrate the feasibility of this data for network analysis and the estimation of disease transmission models.

While network analysis is common in sociology (sociometry), political science, physics, and other fields, this approach to social dynamics is only beginning among economists. As such, a related objective is (3) to allow the PI to further refine his skills in dynamic network analysis, which will aid in the development of a deeper integration of the network analysis with economic analysis. This will strengthen the subsequent applications for external funding by allowing the PI to identify and collaborate with researchers at OSU and elsewhere with experience in network analysis. For example, network analysis can be combined with an economic approach to investigate how the prices of MSW services vary with a given MSWs position in the estimated network, cost benefit analysis of interventions with MSWs based on their predicted network position, and the like.

Significance of Sexual Networks of Male Sex Workers
Despite being identified as vectors of transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), we know little about sexual networks of MSWs. Research on STIs (especially HIV) has noted the unique epidemiological position of MSWs [Parker 2006; Morse et al. 1991; Cohan et al. 2004]. MSWs serve multiple markets: gay identified men, heterosexually-identified men, and their own non-commercial sexual partners [Parker 2006; De Graaf et al. 1994; Coutinho et al. 1988; Bimbi and Parsons 2005; Aggleton 1999; Parsons, Bimbi, and Halkitis 2001]. MSWs may act as a conduit among various groups with different sexual identities. Research has documented that a significant share of the men who have sex with men (MSM) population has attachment to the MSW market—Koken’s et al. [2005] survey suggest that nearly 50% of self-identified gay men have been involved in the commercial sex industry at some point in their lives. Given this high level of involvement with commercial sex work, understanding the sexual networks of MSWs is key to understanding the sexual networks of MSM and potential of STI transmission.


Publications resulting from this seed grant   

Peer-Reviewed Articles
Logan, Trevon D. and Manisha Shah (2012). Face Value: Information and Signaling in an Illegal Market.  Southern Economic Journal 79 (3): 529-564. 

Logan, Trevon “How Central are Clients in Sexual Networks Created by Commercial Sex?” [with Chih-Sheng Hsieh and Jaromir Kovarik] (2014) Scientific Reports 4 (Article No. 7540) 

Chapters in Edited Volumes
Logan, Trevon “The Economics of Male Sex Work” in Scott Cunningham and Manisha Shah, eds. Handbook of the Economics of Prostitution (2015) Oxford University Press