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Determinants of Anti-Trafficking Policies: Evidence from a New Index


  • We thank Nina Breitenstein, Laura Felfeli, Ulrike Heyken, Veronika Kling, Marleen Knipping, Tabea Lakeman, and Lukas Semmler for excellent research assistance, and Scott Jobson for proofreading. For valuable comments, we are grateful to M. Rodwan Abouharb, Courtenay Conrad, Niklas Potrafke, Jan van Dijk, Krishna Vadlamannati, Wendy Wong, and seminar participants at the Annual Conference of the European Association of Law and Economics (Hamburg, 2011), 26th Meeting of the European Economic Association (Oslo 2011), Annual General Conference of the European Political Science Association (Dublin 2011), Beyond Basic Questions Workshop (Brussels 2011), the 5th Annual Conference on the Political Economy of International Organizations (Villanova 2012), the Workshop Human Trafficking, International Crime and National Security: A Human Rights Perspective (Goettingen 2012), and the University of Goettingen. We cordially acknowledge the generous funding provided by the European Commission (JLS/2009/ISEC/AG/005).


We develop an index measuring the three main dimensions – prosecution, protection, and prevention – of the anti-trafficking policies of the governments of up to 180 countries over the 2000−2010 period. Overall, developed countries perform better than the rest of the world; compliance with prosecution policy is highest, while governmental efforts to protect victims of human trafficking remain weakest. We employ the new indices to investigate which factors determine anti-trafficking policies. We find that compliance with anti-trafficking policies significantly decreases with corruption and is higher in countries that also respect the rights of women. We also find some tentative evidence for spatial dependence in anti-trafficking policies.