The emerging economy of porn

The pornography is a large industry. According to Forbes magazine, between July 2009 and 2010, 13% of all searches on the Internet were about erotic content. Approximately 4% of the most visited websites are pornographic, and although it is difficult to give an exact figure, it is estimated that only on the Internet the industry moves about 3 billion dollars a year in the United States. At a global level and considering online and offline content, the figure is almost 100 billion dollars a year.

 However, economists have not paid much attention to this sector: just a quick glance at the literature to see how the examples are reduced to a few articles, to the book of sex, drugs, rock-and-roll and economics. In any case, the access to data (the raw material of the empirical economist) of pornography consumption is relatively simple. Some largest sites publish their annual statistics, performing analyzes, regional or by events (for example, during the NBA finals), of them. However, as some point out the data, without a theory behind, they remain nothing.

There is nothing similar to an “economic theory of porn” that establishes relationships between these data; therefore, what their statistical team can get is a simple descriptive analysis of how the ranking of most searched terms has varied, if searches of “MILF” or “Teen cams” increase, or the duration of the searches. As I said, the academic economy does not have a body of analysis on the world of porn. In fact, until relatively few years ago, almost all related studies were exclusively in charge of psychology, sociology and other social sciences and humanities. However, the economy has landed in areas that in principle were not their own: there are economic analyzes of addiction, family, suicide, art and culture, among others.