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Swedish Model Report

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The Swedish Model Report was a report on the "Sex Purchase Act" introduced in 1999 in Sweden, commonly called the "Swedish Model"[1] or "Nordic Model" by both anti-prostitution and sex workers' rights activists.

The report claimed great success on the part of the Swedish Model, which criminalized buying, but not selling, sex (in short: you can legally prostitute yourself, but if caught, your customers would be arrested). This initially led to great rejoicing among anti-prostitution activists, until further analysis revealed the report to be one of the most ideologically-driven studies to ever claim scholarly merit.[2]

Amongst other things, the study assumed correlation equaled causation (there was an international trend of decreasing street sex workers, which could just as easily explain the decrease in the number of street walkers), assumed the highest possible number of sex workers from before the act was passed (despite their estimate having a margin of error of 50%), ignored the possibility that sex workers might simply have become more difficult to document now that they had to protect their clients (prostitution had previously been legal in Sweden), and generally fell victim to mountains of confirmation bias.

According to a study examining Sweden's prostitution laws that was conducted in 2014, "the law has failed in its abolitionist ambition to decrease levels of prostitution, since there [is] no reliable data demonstrating any overall decline in people selling sex."[3]


  2. Susanne Dodillet and Petra Östergren. "The Swedish Sex Purchase Act: Claimed Success and Documented Effects." Decriminalizing Prostitution and Beyond: Practical Experiences and Challenges (conference). 3 March 2011.
  3. Jay Levy & Pye Jakobsonn, "Sweden’s abolitionist discourse and law: Effects on the dynamics of Swedish sex work and on the lives of Sweden’s sex workers", Criminology and Criminal Justice, 31 March 2014