The Earning and Spending Habits of Male Sex Workers in Lima, Peru


Over the past decade, data have identified male sex work as a potentially viable economic decision; despite this, male sex workers (MSWs) continue to be perceived as group with access to few assets and resources. Using data from a pilot skills–building intervention for MSWs in Lima, Peru, an analysis of the economic characteristics of 209 MSWs is presented. The majority reported livable incomes with median earnings of US$250 per month, 83% earning above the urban poverty line. Interestingly, non-sex work was also an important source of income, especially for the high-earning MSWs. Spending data revealed that a large portion of income went to necessities (55%), luxuries (11%), and gifts (11%), with less toward savings (5%) and studies (1%). Such data on MSWs’ earnings and spending, which suggest that a lack of overall income is not the MSW’s main impediment to escaping poverty, could direct future poverty alleviation and health improvement programs in this key population.

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