Tiger Woods and the Global Sex Industry

Introduction

To the detriment of his wife, children, reputation, future income and sponsors, Tiger Woods has been enjoying the third largest entertainment industry in the world. Together, pornography and prostitution – the sex industry – is a very large business. As Table 1 indicates, only drugs and drinking are greater than sex in terms of global entertainment outlays.

Table 1. – Global Entertainment Outlays 

Category

(in bil. US$)

Drugs

1,423.9

   Cigarettes

550.4

   Cannabis

354.0

   Opium

261.8

   Heroin

102.9

   Cocaine

122.0

   Amphetamines

19.0

   Ecstasy

13.8

Alcohol

1,163

   Beer

614

   Spirits

299

   Wine

250

Sex

497

   Prostitution

400

   Pornography

97

Restaurants

183

Movies

180

Gambling

110

Sports

63

Computer Games

54

Live performances

35

Tourism

25

Music

7

Source: https://morssglobalfinance.com/the-economics-of-the-global-entertainment-industry/, https://morssglobalfinance.com/global-entertainment-the-dangerous-addictions/.

In light of Tiger’s behavior, this article will focus on prostitution.

Prostitution – Can We Believe the Figures?

While I am not aware of a definitive global study of the prostitution industry, it is definitely one of the largest entertainment industries in the world. Consider first the high income part of the world: North America, the European Union, and Japan.

North America, the European Union, and Japan

There is some country-specific evidence on prostitution that can be used to make projections for the entire area:

  • in Japan, earnings from prostitution in 1998 were estimated at $4.7 billion.
  • German prostitution revenues have been estimated at $8.4 billion EURs;
  • Zurich and Amsterdam have 11 prostitutes per 1,000 population;
  • Spain has 500,000 prostitutes earning $54 billion annually

(http://swannet.org/en/node/555).

Let us use the data for Japan, Germany and Spain to make some projections for the entire region. Assume the per capita prostitution rate is the same the European Union, North America, and Japan. Then let us multiply the ratio of the EUR/NA/Jap population [956 million] to each country’s population by each country’s prostitution revenues. The results are shown in Table 2.

Table 2. Projected Prostitution Rates for the EU,

North America, and Japan

 

Prostitution

 

Projection 

Country

Revenues (bil US$)

Population (mil.)

(US $ bil.)

Japan

4.7

127

35

Germany

12.4

82

145

Spain

54.0

46

1,122

These projections are very different. If the Japanese data are to be believed, annual prostitution revenues in these countries are only $35 billion per year. But using the Spanish data for the estimate, prostitution revenues are $1.122 trillion annually!

We now turn to the developing world – the 5.8 billion people not living in the European Union, North America, or Japan.

The Developing World

In 1994, the ILO did a study of prostitution in 4 Southeast Asian countries (Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, and Thailand) – ILO Study. It concluded the industry generated revenues of more than $30 billion in these four countries. Most of this came from Thailand where people paid $22-24 billion for prostitution services.  These four countries constitute 7.4% of the developing world population. global population. If prostitution were practiced at the same rate per capita in the developing world as in these four countries, 1994 revenues more than $400 billion. But that is not likely inasmuch as Bangkok is one of the world’s leading prostitution centers. However, prostitution revenues have definitely grown since 1994.

The ILO study suggests one other approach to estimating prostitution revenues for the developing world. The study estimated that prostitution revenues were somewhere between 2% and 14% of GDP for these four countries. Let us assume that prostitution revenues are 6% of all developing country GDPs. According to the CIA Fact Book, Total GDP for the developing world was $22.3 trillion in 2008. At 6%, prostitution revenues would be $1.3 trillion.

Conclusions

I conclude from these exercises that prostitution worldwide is a tremendous industry, probably generating revenues of $1 trillion annually. It pervades the global travel/accommodation/tourism industry. Prostitution services are easily obtained at almost any hotel in the world. No matter whether you are staying at a high-end “Western” hotel or a $1/night “flea-bag” hotel for truck drivers in northern Myanmar, prostitution services are available.

Back to Tiger Woods and the Global Sex Industry

In 2005, I wrote an article with Bruce Mazlish questioning whether there was a global elite – http://www.cambridge.org/uk/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=0521549930&ss=fro. We hypothesized there were 4 distinctive types of global elites. But they have certain common characteristics: they all travel extensively, stay in the same hotels, go to the same restaurants, and take advantage of entertainment services wherever they are. Woods is a member of one of these global elites.

The sponsors of golf tournaments are eager for Tiger to return in future years. They will do whatever they can to make his stay enjoyable. Word gets around, the sponsors talk to one another, and they make sure that female companionship is available for Tiger wherever he went. William C. Roden, writing in the New York Times sports section (Dec. 13, 2009) says that if his handlers and corporate sponsors “say they did not know about his affairs, they are probably not telling the truth”.  Of course they knew what was going on. They made the arrangements!

Will we ever get a complete tally? Of course not. For most of the ladies who had Tiger as a client, prostitution is a good part-time business, and by going public, they would tarnish their image as discrete providers of intimate services.

One other question I have: if you are a sports reporter covering Tiger, why have you not stumbled on this and reported on it? Is the employment of prostitutes among traveling professionals in sports and other businesses is so pervasive that it is hardly news? That is probably part of it. But in the case of Tiger, there was also probably a web of silence among reporters to perpetuate Tiger’s clean image.

The content above was saved on the old Morss Global Finance website, just in case anyone was looking for it (with the help of archive.org):
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