Britain, Italy count prostitution, drugs in GDP estimates

The Australian navy, in conjunction with a British team, seized about $235 million worth of drugs late last month off the eastern coast of Africa near Kenya.
(Sarah Williams/AFP/Getty Images)

Sex, drugs and ... GDP? 

Britain’s national statistical agency Thursday announced it would begin measuring the economic impact of prostitution and drug trade and include them in future official gross domestic product estimates. 

By the Office of National Statistics’ initial reckoning, the illegal activities in 2009 contributed $16.7 billion to Britain’s economy, comprising about 0.7% of its GDP. 

The country’s September report will include the new estimates, which cover the import, production and sale of illegal drugs. British officials said prostitution contributed about $8.8 billion to the country’s economy; drugs accounted for the remainder of the $16.7-billion estimate. 


Italy announced earlier this month that it would include the economic impact of drug and sex trade in its October report. 

Italian officials have not yet released their estimates on drug and sex trade, but treasury officials in that country told The Economist that its effects “will be negligible” and tracking their impact is “a difficult business.”

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