Human Trafficking Research Portfolio

Human trafficking is not a problem of the past. In fact, we're just beginning to grasp the extent of human trafficking and the forms it takes, from the commercial sex trade to domestic servitude to child trafficking to sweatshops.

Using quantitative and qualitative approaches and working with major players in human trafficking research and regulation, the Urban Institute provides new insight into this complicated and nuanced issue. Our research seeks to better understand and describe the forces that drive trafficking and the effect it has on everyone involved. Our research has informed policy and practice, and we continue to publish groundbreaking studies shedding light on the lives of trafficking victims and the people who prey on them. 

Sex Trafficking

Labor Trafficking

International Human Trafficking

Monitoring Human Trafficking

Urban researchers have been asked to help design or evaluate monitoring programs for the federal government. Though these efforts did not produce public research, they did contribute substantially to efforts to end human trafficking. 

Projects in Progress

NIJ-funded evaluation of the enhanced collaborative model to combat human trafficking

In 2010, the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) and Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) developed and began funding multidisciplinary “Enhanced Collaborative Model” (ECM) anti-trafficking task forces, comprised of law enforcement agencies and victim service organizations, to provide a comprehensive array of services and to enhance the investigation and prosecution of human trafficking.

The Urban Institute is conducting an evaluation of ten ECM task forces, with the goal of assessing the impact they have on identifying and assisting human trafficking survivors and investigating and prosecuting human trafficking crimes. The evaluation will also examine differences among task force models in an effort to identify features of task forces that enable successful investigations and prosecutions of human trafficking.

OVC-funded specialized human trafficking training and technical assistance

The Urban Institute will partner with the Justice Program Office (JPO) at American University to evaluate the launch of Maximizing OVC's Survivor Assistance in Court Settings (MOSAICS), a program intended to assist court personnel in creating and implementing effective, responsive interventions for human trafficking survivors.

In collaboration with a team of nationally recognized human trafficking experts and trafficking survivors, MOSAICS will provide trauma-informed, resilience-based, and survivor-centered training and technical assistance (TTA) to  a broad range of stakeholders in local adult criminal court settings, including attorneys, judges, probation, parole, and court and correction officers, with the goal of increasing the identification of human trafficking survivors in criminal court settings, enhancing survivor referrals to appropriate services, and decreasing re-victimization of human trafficking survivors who interact with the justice system.