Human Trafficking: The Role of Culture

Cassandra DiRienzo, Jayoti Das


Human trafficking, like any market, involves both a supply and a demand.  In reference to the demand side, wealth has been generally recognized as the significant ‘pull’ factor to human trafficking; however, a debate remains, with exception to income, as to the significant ‘push’ or supply factors.  It is argued here that culture is an important, overlooked push factor.  Using Hofstede’s (1980) four dimensions of national culture, the primary purpose of this study is to empirically test to role of culture as a ‘push’ factor in human trafficking.  An ordered probit regression is estimated using the UNODC’s (2006) scaled measure of national human trafficking outflows across countries.  While controlling for economic development, the impact of Hofstede’s (1980) four cultural dimensions on human trafficking outflows are examined.  The analysis provides empirical evidence that two of the four Hofstede (1980) cultural dimensions significantly affect the likelihood that a country has a higher outflow of people being trafficked.    The results suggest that efforts to combat human trafficking should include educational campaigns that are tailored to address the cultural dimensions within a country.

Keywords: Human Trafficking, Push Factors, Culture, Individualism, Power Distance

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