Insights into the economy can be found in surprising places. In a brothel, for instance, how services are priced and who ends up working there can reveal a lot about the state of the business cycle. It also reflects structural changes in our economy and society.

When I spent time at the Moonlight Bunny Ranch in Nevada while researching a book a few years ago, I was struck by how many of the women came from families where the men didn’t work. Many had husbands, boyfriends, brothers and male cousins who weren’t in the labor force — without a job and sometimes not even looking.

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