Chapter 6: Economics of pornography
Samuel Cameron In this chapter, we look at the contribution economics can make to analysing the behaviour of markets for pornography and to the formulation of public policy in this area. For instance, we show that economics can, through standard supply and demand models, shed light on the impact of regulatory policies on pornography and provide a framework that isolates diﬀerent elements in the eﬀect of technological change on the long-run equilibrium price and output levels of each type of pornography. It should be noted from the outset, however, that as a general rule most academic debate and teaching on the subject of pornography is to be found within the realms of feminism, philosophy and legal theory. Economists have made scant contribution with the odd exception. Judge Richard A. Posner, for example, has repeatedly applied orthodox free market Chicago thinking to porn in several of his books (see Economic Analysis of Law, 1973; Sex and Reason, 1994; Frontiers of Legal Theory, 2001). Heterodox economist David George (2001, pp. 122–4) brieﬂy discusses porn as an instance of what he calls ‘preference pollution’. In this scenario, free markets impose weakness of will upon us leading to the ‘wrong choice’ of consumption basket. We end up on a lower indiﬀerence curve than might otherwise have been obtained. Yet, there are perhaps two simple areas in which debate on porn is focused, which could be summed up in these propositions: 1. There is a huge and growing amount of...
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