We drew the information presented below about the male clients (johns) of prostitutes worldwide from 21 studies conducted between 1994 and 2010. We included the only 15 countries for which we found data on men paying for sex at least once in their lifetimes. We excluded countries for which we could only locate findings on paid sex during the previous year. When we located a range of estimates for one country, we listed the highest and lowest percentages found. Researchers investigating prostitutes’ clientele have reported difficulty finding reliable data because of a scarcity of prior research, variations in sample sizes, and possible underreporting by survey respondents about their private sexual practices.
|Country||% of Men Who Have Paid for Sex at Least Once||Additional Information|
| 1. Cambodia||59 - 80||"Cambodian men are quite ready to admit that they seek the favours of prostitutes, even though they may be married and have two or three girlfriends on the side. It has become very much a part of life. For many Cambodian men, giving his friend a treat means taking him to a brothel. Men who decline such favours are looked upon as unusual, even abnormal."
Leela Barrock, "'Golden Flowers' a Thriving Trade," Business Times (Malaysia), Oct. 14, 1996
"...[L]ocal demand for prostitutes is estimated to contribute between 49 to 70 per cent of the demand for commercial sex in Cambodia. A 'high demand for virgins from Cambodian men fuelling the flow of underage girls into Cambodia's sex trade' was also cited as a concern...
There is a persistent belief among Cambodian men that sleeping with a virgin has rejuvenating powers and can even cure HIV/Aids."
"Locals Fuelling Child Prostitution," Straits Times (Singapore)/Agence France-Presse (AFP), Oct. 7, 2010
| 2. Thailand||75||"Professor Vicharn Vitiyasai of Chang Mai University... emphasized that, 'In Thai society, boys begin to buy women when they are around 13 years old; 50 per cent of 16-year-old boys and 90 per cent of university students go to brothels. Married men also think it natural to entertain business clients and friends by taking them to brothels, and they visit brothels themselves as a part of the joy of travel.'"
Yayori Matsui, Women in the New Asia, 1999
| 3. Italy||16.7 - 45||"Until 1960, about a quarter of Italian young men had their first complete heterosexual experience with prostitutes. Visits to brothels were considered part of the process of coming of age for young, unmarried men, even though in reality middle-aged married men made up a large part of the clientele.
Today, there is a growing demand for sexual services, which seems to be linked with the more general phenomenon of the commoditization of human relations...
64.7% of young people agree with the idea of reestablishing brothels. Moreover, the majority of young men do not exclude the possibility of going with prostitutes."
Bruno Wanrooij, PhD, "Italy," Continuum Complete International Encyclopedia of Sexuality, Eds. Robert T. Francoeur, PhD, and Raymond J. Noonan, PhD, Kinsey Institute, 2004
| 4. Spain||27 - 39||"...[I]n 1998 the typical client was a 40-year-old married male. By 2005, however, the average age had dropped to 30 – and it appears to be getting lower.
There is no single reason... why prostitution should be so popular in Spain. Historically it has long been seen as an expression of individual freedom – first as a pressure valve for the strait-laced family-focused environment of the Franco years (when prostitution was quietly ignored), and then consolidating itself after the dictator died... Among the young men of the Spanish provinces, even in the late 1980s, sleeping with a prostitute was no longer something you did as way of losing your virginity: it could actually be seen as cool."
Alasdair Fotheringham, "Spain, the World Capital of Prostitution?," The Independent (UK), Dec. 5, 2010
| 5. Japan|| 37||"It is still quietly accepted and understood that a Japanese husband may join business associates or friends for a visit to a 'Soapland' red-light district...
The old-style, leisurely coital sex play with geishas and Soap Ladies, however, is declining in favor of quick, cheaper (and hence, more frequently affordable) masturbation, oral sex, and voyeurism... One factor in this shift is the high-pressure life and lack of leisure in the male business world; most white-collar workers (salarymen) do not have a lot of leisure time or spare money to spend on the traditional commercial sex."
Robert T. Francoeur, PhD, Editor's Comment in Yoshiro Hatano, PhD, and Tsuguo Shimazaki, "Japan," Continuum Complete International Encyclopedia of Sexuality, Eds. Robert T. Francoeur, PhD, and Raymond J. Noonan, PhD, Kinsey Institute, 2004
| 6. Netherlands||13.5 - 21.6||"In 1968, more than half of all single men and 12% of husbands refused to answer questions about paid sexual encounters. In both groups, 12% admitted to having visited a prostitute at least once. In 1981, refusal was almost nil and 11% admitted to having visited a prostitute at least once. Moreover, 19% of the married group, especially the younger-age group, had visited a sex club at least once. In 1989, 13.5% of the male respondents reported having paid for sex at least once; 2.6% had had at least one paid sex experience in the past year."
Jelto J. Drenth, PhD., and A. Koos Slob, PhD, "Netherlands and the Autonomous Dutch Antilles," Continuum Complete International Encyclopedia of Sexuality, Eds. Robert T. Francoeur, PhD, and Raymond J. Noonan, PhD, Kinsey Institute, 2004
"Unexpectedly, the figure from the Dutch study (14 percent) is relatively low taking into consideration the extensive sex trade that exists in this country, and the official liberal approach to it. One possible explanation of the low figure may be that the proportion of foreign visitors among buyers of sex is very high, which is not reflected in the nationally based statistics."
Sven-Axel Månsson, "Men’s Practices in Prostitution and Their Implications for Social Work," Social Work in Cuba and Sweden: Achievements and Prospects, Eds. Sven-Axel Månsson and Clotilde Proveyer Cervantes, 2004
| 7. United States||15 - 20||"While earlier studies with methodological limitations have found 69% (Kinsey et al., 1948) to 80% (Benjamin and Masters, 1964) of American men to have engaged in commercial sex, more recent studies with representative sampling have found much lower - but still substantial - rates in the range of 15% to 20%...
While men who solicit prostitution are not atypical demographically or in terms of criminal history, they are unsurprisingly and measurably different in terms of a range of attitudes toward women, relationships, and commercial sex... [C]onsumers were less likely to be happily married than men in national samples, to have sexually liberal attitudes (e.g., to view premarital sex, sex among minors, and homosexuality as acceptable), and to think about sex more often. Commercial sex participants were also less likely to have been sexually molested as children, or to report having forced women into sexual acts. The differences between samples were not large, but were statistically significant."
Abt Associates Inc., "Final Report on the Evaluation of the First Offender Prostitution Program," Prepared for Karen Bachar, Office of Research and Evaluation, National Institute of Justice, March 7, 2008
"Contact [with prostitutes] is higher among those living in metropolitan areas, Blacks, those with lower incomes, veterans (probably when in military service), those who attend church less frequently, and those having gone through a divorce or are currently separated. Among married men paying for sex during the last 12 months is strongly related to low marital happiness."
Tom W. Smith, "American Sexual Behavior: Trends, Socio-Demographic Differences, and Risk Behavior," General Social Survey (GSS) Project at the National Opinion Research Center, University of Chicago, Mar. 2006
| 8. China||6.4 - 20||"The main clients of sex workers are middle class men (officials and businessmen) under 35 years old. Men with income in the highest 5% were 33 times as likely as those in the bottom 40% to have bought sex."
Yingying Huang, Suiming Pan, "Job mobility of Brothel-based Female Sex Workers in Current Northeast China: the Process from Xiagang Worker (lay-offs) to Sex Worker," Institute of Sexuality and Gender, Renmin University of China
"Less than 8 percent of older Chinese men reported paying for sex, while more than 20 percent of young men said they had done so. In the United States, conversely, older men have employed prostitutes more often than young men... With most Chinese women not yet sexually liberated, [researcher William] Parish says, young Chinese men 'resort to prostitution for their sexual demand.' And many of these young men are married..."
Amy Braverman, "Investigations: Open-door sexuality," University of Chicago Magazine, Oct. 2002
| 9. Switzerland||19||"The Swiss Aids Federation estimates that 14,000 women work as prostitutes in Switzerland, and about 550,000 male clients use their services at least once a year. However, given the near impossibility of calculating real figures, experts contend that the actual numbers are much higher."
"The Sex Trade in Switzerland," Swiss News, Nov. 1, 2007
"Prostitutes in the Lugano area of Switzerland are being trained in the use of defibrillators due to their high number of elderly clients, reports say.
There are currently 38 brothels in the area, largely catering to Italian clients traveling over the border. Following incidents of heart attacks amongst several patrons, including the death of one elderly man reportedly using anti-impotence medication to enliven the experience, defibrillators are now being placed in the sex clubs."
"Swiss Prostitutes Trained to Use Defibrillators in Brothels," Huffington Post, Apr. 21, 2010
| 10. France||16||"[There is] a reported move by middle-class men away from street prostitution to more discreet forms where the client is better protected from any problems with the law and is more anonymous. The first major academic study of clients... found that street prostitution is still the most popular form, particularly for clients with less money..."
Gill Allwood, "The Construction of Prostitutes and Clients in French Policy Debates," Demanding Sex: Critical Reflections on the Regulation of Prostitution, Eds. Vanessa E. Munro and Marina Della Giusta, 2008
| 11. Australia||15.6||"97% [of men who had paid for sex] had paid for sex with a woman and 3% for sex with a man. Very few women (0.1%) had ever paid for sex... Men who had paid for sex were more likely than other men to smoke, to drink more alcohol, to have had a sexually transmitted infection or been tested for HIV, to have more sexual partners, to have first had vaginal intercourse before 16, and to have had heterosexual anal intercourse."
Chris E. Rissel, Juliet Richters, Andrew E. Grulich, Richard O. de Visser, Anthony M. A. Smith, "Sex in Australia: Experiences of Commercial Sex in a Representative Sample of Adults," Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, Apr. 2003
| 12. Sweden||7.9 - 13.6||"A 2008 study conducted by the National Council for Crime Prevention (Brottsförebyggande rådet) concluded that Swedish sex buyers are not a homogenous group. They cover a wide spectrum–from young teenagers to 80-year olds–but are generally between 30 and 50 years of age. Sex buyers also belong to all classes of society. It is not unusual for the buyer to have a good job and a regular income, and about half have a college or university education. Approximately every other Swedish buyer of sex is married or in a relationship, and some 40 percent have children...
According to a research report in 2008 from the Nordic Gender Institute, the number of sex buyers in Sweden has declined since the introduction of the sex purchase law... the number of male sex buyers had decreased from 13.6 percent to 7.9 percent."
Kajsa Claude, Targeting the Sex Buyer - The Swedish Example: Stopping Prostitution and Trafficking Where It All Begins, 2010
| 13. Finland||10 - 13||"The [Finnish] buyers of sex that I have been in contact with are, as I said, not a homogenous group: The age distribution is between 20-60 years. They come from different social classes, some are single, but most of them are married and approximately 50% of them have children. Average age is 38 and on average, the first time they bought sex was at the age of 26. Most of them have at least high school education and many also have a university degree."
Anne-Maria Marttila, "Consuming Sex – Finnish Male Clients and Russian and Baltic Prostitution," presented at Gender and Power in the New Europe - the 5th European Feminist Research Conference, Aug. 2003
| 14. Norway|| 12.9||"Having paid for sex was significantly associated with being single, being on a disability pension, early sexual debut and having multiple other sex partners; these men were less likely to use condoms when having sex with a cohabiting partner... and more likely to have had a sexually transmitted infection..."
Berit Schei and Hein Stigum, "A Study of Men Who Pay for Sex, Based on the Norwegian National Sex Surveys," Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, Mar. 2010
| 15. United Kingdom||7 - 8.8||"The number of men paying women for sex has nearly doubled in a decade, UK research suggests. Surveys of 11,000 British adults in 1990 and 2000 found the rate increased from one in 20 to nearly one in 10 men."
"'Twice as Many Men' Pay for Sex," bbc.co.uk, Dec. 1, 2005
"It is possible that some of the change between 1990 and 2000 is the result of increased reporting, with a greater acceptability of commercial sexual contact, but we think this is unlikely to account for the whole increase.
The rate of divorce has increased, as has the proportion of men who are never or previously married, and this may explain some of the increased 'demand' for commercial sex. Further evidence for the growth in commercial sex can be found from studies of sex workers... [A]ll reports suggest an increasingly large and diverse sex industry, with more opportunities for the sale and purchase of sex via sex clubs, escort agencies, the internet, and sex tourism."
H. Ward, C. H. Mercer, K. Wellings, K. Fenton, B. Erens, A. Copas, A. M. Johnson, "Who Pays for Sex? An Analysis of the Increasing Prevalence of Female Commercial Sex Contacts Among Men in Britain," Sexually Transmitted Infections, Dec. 2005