2021: Contracting for sex in the Pacific War
"Comfort Women" | "Trostfrauen" | Ramseyer
Akademische Integrität steht auf dem Spiel. Abuse of History.
Contracting for sex in the Pacific War
J. Mark Ramseyer, Harvard University, United States
The protracted political dispute between South Korea and Japan over the wartime brothels called ¨comfortstations¨ obscures the contractual dynamics involved. These dynamics reflected the straightforward logic of the ¨credible commitments¨ so basic to elementary game theory. The brothel owners and potential prostitutes faced a problem: the brothel needed credibly to commit to a contractual structure (i) generous enough to offset the dangers and reputational damage to the prostitute that the job entailed, while (ii) giving the prostitute an incentive to exert effort while working at a harsh job in an unobservable environment.
Realizing that the brothel owners had an incentive to exaggerate their future earnings, the women demanded a large portion of their pay upfront. Realizing that they were headed to the war zone, they demanded a relatively short maximum term. And realizing that the women had an incentive to shirk, the brothel owners demanded a contractual structure that gave women incentives to work hard. To satisfy these superficially contradictory demands, the women and brothels concluded indenture contracts that coupled (i) a large advance with one- or two-year maximum terms, with (ii) an ability for the women to leave early if they generated sufficient revenue. ....