A “shadow economy” sounds like something you might encounter in a science fiction novel, but it’s exactly what a new study by Britain’s Office of National Statistics (ONS) attempted to measure, according to one Telegraph report. Specifically, the ONS has gone to great lengths to investigate the underground trade of illicit sex and drugs; extrapolating numbers from data collected in London, the Office has determined to the best of its ability the scope of these illegal economies in the UK. And the results are quite alarming.
Based on estimations, British citizens spent only slightly less money in past four years on prostitution as they did on getting their hair cut. Furthermore, when it comes to illicit drugs, Britons spent about one and a half times more on substances like heroin, cocaine, amphetamines, marijuana and ecstasy than they did on beer and spirits individually in the past year. Wine sales, however, surprisingly remain more profitable than the drug trade.
Combined, this sex and drug “shadow economy” accounts for £12.3 billion, or 0.7% of the UK’s gross domestic product. The question now is, do these statistics make a case for drug policy reform, making more of these transactions legitimate? [Telegraph] [Photo:Flickr/M.A. Cabrera Luengo]