A Survival Analysis of Timing of Entry into Prostitution: The Differential Impact of Race, Educational Level, and Childhood/Adolescent Risk Factors



Using survey data obtained from 309 women working in street-level prostitution in Phoenix, Arizona, this investigation examines the influence of minority status, educational level, and the experience of risk factors in an individual's childhood or adolescence on the hazard rate for age of entry into prostitution. Findings of this study show that women engaging in prostitution have limited educational backgrounds and often do not complete high school. Results indicate that both white and minority women engaging in prostitution experienced high rates of physical and sexual abuse in childhood, as well as parental substance abuse. When compared to minority women, white women are more likely to have experienced any one of these three risk factors thought to influence entry into prostitution, yet event-history analysis indicates that minority women consistently experience significantly higher hazard rates for entry into prostitution. Findings suggest the need for future research to better assess the impact of race—in the form of socioeconomic and social disadvantages associated with minority status—as it relates to entry into the sex trade.