September 21, 2008

Debunking the Myth of "Average Age of Entry"

At the Prostitution Town Hall meeting last week, several panelists stated that the average age of entry into prostitution was 12-14 year old. Although this claim is clearly implausible, it generated the impression that virtually all prostitutes started as children, and became the basis for the discussion that followed thereafter.

But the impression is unfounded. The figure comes from a 2001 report written by University of Pennsylvania researchers Richard Estes and Neil Alan Weiner, and is actually the average age of entry into prostitution among minors who are in prostitution.

If you survey only minors, average age of anything would be pretty low. For example, the average age of death for those who died during childhood would be some shockingly low figure, but it does not tell us anything about the average life expectancy of the population at large.

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