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Advancing Human Trafficking Prevalence Estimation

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2015, $996,870)

The proposed project will advance the estimation of human trafficking prevalence in local jurisdictions by adapting and testing our hidden population estimation (HPE) methodology by systematically and reliably sampling from populations at risk, screening for labor and sex trafficking victimization, and gathering data about prior contacts with criminal justice and social services. Similar methods have successfully estimated other hidden populations, and their adaptation and demonstration in this study will result in a methodology that is scalable, replicable, feasible, and produces scientifically sound trafficking prevalence estimates. Our key research objectives are determining the prevalence of sex and labor trafficking victimization within the arrestee and victim service caseloads in a given jurisdiction, demonstrating the extent to which local findings can be generalized, and assessing the feasibility and utility of pursuing the proposed method. The study will occur in phases over three years. Literature reviews and secondary data analyses will identify optimal candidate sites. A selection and outreach process will produce partnerships between ABT/SRBI and key collaborators in two counties in the first year. Then, jail systems and service providers will provide access and support to potential respondents, and survivors will form local advisory panels at both sites to inform development of survey instruments and administration protocols, and to help interpret findings. The survey team will interview 250 respondents from jails and 450 from shelters, substance abuse, and human trafficking service providers. The sample will be divided equally by gender and screened for both sex and labor trafficking. The “stock” of individuals already in contact with services or in booking facilities, and the “flow” of individuals during the data collection period, will be sampled using administrative data. Asking both jail and service samples about prior contacts allows assessment of the extent of victims “crossing” sectors and multiple contacts with justice and service systems.
Each respondent will be weighted based on their probability of selection, and case weights will reflect selection probabilities to represent all persons engaged within the collection timeframe. Knowing the size of the population observed at the places of collection, and determining the rate at which the trafficked population contacts these places of collection, we may estimate the size of the trafficked population in a jurisdiction. Study findings and implications will be disseminated to key policy, practitioner, and research audiences via journal articles, webinars, policy briefs, and presentations, and a de-identified, publicly accessible database will be archived with ICPSR.
This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law. ca/ncf

Date Created: September 23, 2015