First Italy, then Britain, and now Spain has decided that the key to reducing its debt-to-GDP ratio is not fiscal responsibility, growth, inflation, or restructuring but simply changing the denominator to better reflect reality - in other words, as El Pais reports, Spain is putting an official number on its sex trade and therefore juicing GDP. Prostitution, which is in legal limbo in Spain, is expected, according to revised figures released by the INE on Thursday Spanish GDP increases by between 2.7% and 4.5% after illegal activities such as prostitution, drug trafficking and smuggling are included. The Spanish government is undertaking a sexual services survey to better understand the industry...
As El Pais reports,
Several months ago two researchers from Spain’s National Statistics Institute (INE) paid a visit to the headquarters of an association called Heteria - the organization that works to protect the rights of sex workers - looking for a way to estimate how much money prostitution contributes to the Spanish economy.
The government has been working to measure a part of the illegal economy, and incorporate it into the official calculation of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This week it revealed its results: according to revised figures released by the INE on Thursday Spanish GDP increases by between 2.7% and 4.5% after illegal activities such as prostitution, drug trafficking and smuggling, together with other methodological changes, are included.
Of course they are not the first...
Other European countries have been doing the same. Portugal, for instance, on Thursday published figures showing that illegal activities accounted for around €700 million of GDP, around 0.4% of the total. Meanwhile, results from the United Kingdom indicate that prostitution, drug trafficking and smuggling account for around €12.3 billion. That’s 0.6% of GDP, according to a report released last week by the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS).
“A European Union regulation states that part of the illegal economy – prostitution, drug trafficking and smuggling – must be included in GDP calculations before 2016,” the INE explains. Government sources say Brussels is demanding an estimate of these changes to GDP before August.
And so the sexual services survey is underway...
At the end of last year, José Roca, a representative from Anela, an association of brothels, received a call at his Valencia office from the INE. It wanted to know if there was any data about turnover, costs and other such figures for the sector. To start with, Roca thought it was a joke. But when he received an official email from the INE he was finally convinced that it was a serious request.
Shortly afterward he received a questionnaire from the statistics office with a number of questions.
- How much did a prostitute charge on average for her services in the years 2002/2007/2012?
- What was the average number of services provided per prostitute a day in 2002/2007/2012?
- What was the average billing in 2012 for a normal/small brothel (fewer than 50 prostitutes) for renting rooms?
Roca answered as best he could: “€50/€70/€40” for the first question; “6/8/4” for the second; and “€50 per day/prostitute” for the last.
“It’s impossible to calculate,” explains Roca. “Any figure that we could give is random and subjective. There is no census for brothels, nor for prostitutes, average costs or services.
“It would be better for them to invent a figure,” he concludes.
Which is likely what they are hoping for - anything for some GDP...
And since this is just the beginning for a world which is slowly coming to grips with just how insolvent its non-shadow economy is, we eagerly look forward to the next bold move by economist everywhere: estimating the number of undocumented drug dealer and prostitutes and adding them to the monthly nonfarm payroll total. Think of it as a Birth/Death adjustment. Only more like a Blowjob/Drugs adjustment.
How many blow jobs were created or saved thanks to government intervention?
But how will they account for this? Product (drink) or Service (blow job)