Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Criminal Justice


In recent years, government agencies, advocacy groups, and academics have made attempts to address and understand the problem of human trafficking through raising awareness, conducting research and implementing prevention and intervention programs. This study tested whether gender inequality measures, which capture aspects of a country's social and political operations, are related to less governmental efforts to enforce laws against human trafficking, after controlling for other possible explanations for lax enforcement such as poverty, government corruption, political instability and increase of general violence, educational achievement, net migration, and the percent of the country's population living in urban areas.

The data were gathered from several sources, but most notably the World Bank, the United States' Report on Human Trafficking, and the United Nation's Progress of Women report. The sample consisted of 173 countries. To provide a better control for a country's income level, analyses were conducted within three gross national income categories: countries with a GNI of $3,000 or below (N = 69); countries with a GNI between $3,001 and $11,999 (N = 54); countries with a GNI of $12,000 or higher (N = 50). The dependent measure was whether countries were ranked as providing sufficient enforcement of trafficking efforts (tier one or two; N = 113; 65.3%) or insufficient trafficking enforcement (tier two watch group or tier three; N = 60; 34.7%) in the United States Trafficking in Persons Report tier ranking system. To enhance the construct and

predictive validity of this study, the main indicators of women as being disadvantaged in their access to equal resources and opportunities were used. Thus, to create effective interventions and develop a theory of enforcement, a second set of analyses examined which indicators of gender inequality predict the between country variation in sufficiency of enforcement of human trafficking laws. The specific measures of gender inequality included in the scales were: adolescent fertility rate, differential educational achievement of men compared to women, percentage of women's share of the labor force, the difference between female and male monetary earnings, and the percentage of women in ministerial government positions.

This study produced the following statistically significant findings. Through the first analysis, impoverished and poor countries that ranked high on the gender inequality scales were subsequently found to have higher reported perceived corruption. Additionally, a country's score on the Corruption Perception Index was found to be a significant predictor of unsuccessfully responding to human trafficking (placement on tier two watch or tier three). The second analysis yielded support for decreasing disparities between male and female educational opportunities, as well as increasing the number of women involved in key decision making (ministerial positions). Overall, the findings produced by this study suggest the need for a cross-national gender-equality based approach to combating human trafficking and further research into these issues.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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