Sex trafficking is a major problem in the United States. It is often overlooked due to the fact that much of the trafficking is done underground. This study looks to answer the question, how does legislation and demographics of states impact varying rates of sex trafficking? Through looking at literature done by previous scholars, I have developed hypotheses which predict that states with poor economic conditions and high immigrant populations, along with weak legislation will have the highest rates of trafficking. In order to test these hypotheses, I looked did a comprehensive case study on the states of Ohio, Nevada, Colorado and Washington D.C. Comparisons were made across all four states. It because clear that the states of Ohio and Washington D.C. had weak legislation and Nevada and Colorado had strong legislation on sex trafficking. In terms of at-risk populations, Nevada and Washington D.C. had high at risk populations, where Ohio and Colorado did not. It was found that Colorado had the lowest rates of trafficking per capita as a result of its low-risk population and strict legislation. Washington D.C. had the highest rates of trafficking per capita as a result of the weak legislation and high-risk population. Through these findings, it can be concluded that the demographic characteristics of a states population has a large impact on rates of sex trafficking rates. This is particularly evident in states with high immigrant populations and high-income inequality. As a result of this, states with these characteristics are more likely to struggle with the issue of sex trafficking. With this being said, it is important for state governments to implement the strictest possible legislation in regards to sex trafficking. This study is important to the study of sex trafficking because it show the important connection between at-risk populations and state legislation.


Corral, Alvaro


Political Science


American Politics | Political Science


Sex Trafficking, United States

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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