Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


David Milen


In Los Angeles County, California, approximately 2,245 victims of child sex trafficking were identified between 1997 and 2012. Several authors believed that poverty was linked to child sex trafficking because it increased the vulnerability of victims. The purpose of this nonexperimental, correlational study was to explore the question of how poverty was related to child sex trafficking in Los Angeles County, California. Intersectionality from the third wave of feminist theory was used as the theoretical underpinning of this study. Using data from the United States Census Bureau and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, information was collected on 97 counties in the southwestern portion of the United States that had a minimum population of 100,000 people and at least 1 arrest of a minor for prostitution between the years of 1997 and 2012. Analysis of the nonnormal data through a Friedman test indicated that differences in the medians existed in the levels of the child sex trafficking variable, but follow up tests did not reveal the sources of the differences. Kendall's W test results indicated a lack of concordance, and Spearman's correlation did not indicate that a monotonic relationship existed between the variables when tested by year, except for 1998. These results failed to provide the evidence needed to reject the null hypothesis. The relationship between poverty and child sex trafficking at the county level could not be measured by income and through a portion of the victim population. Differing measurements of poverty, varying levels of analysis, and diverse applications of intersectionality may yield different results. Ultimately, this study was a first step, rather than a final step, in creating positive social change through increased knowledge and more effective policies against sex trafficking.