May 9, 2023
Reducing the prevalence of human trafficking is a national priority. In this report, researchers recommend a research agenda for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to promote operationally relevant, focused, applied social and behavioral science research that would inform decision- and policymakers and assist operational partners in mitigating the crimes of labor trafficking and human trafficking more broadly.
Published May 9, 2023
Reducing the prevalence of all forms of human trafficking, including sex trafficking, labor trafficking, and child sexual exploitation, is a national priority that puts the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in a prominent role. Given the scale, evolving nature, and complexity of labor trafficking, combating the problem poses a significant challenge. The DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) anti–human trafficking program is assessing the current state of and future needs for labor trafficking research in the United States. This effort will serve as a starting point for future social science–based S&T anti–human trafficking research and actions focused on labor trafficking.
As part of this effort, DHS asked the Homeland Security Operational Analysis Center (HSOAC) to identify a scientifically sound research agenda that would leverage existing U.S. and international efforts to address the growing phenomenon of labor trafficking. HSOAC experts developed a research agenda through an extensive review of the literature and meetings with experts from academia and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and with stakeholders from DHS and other parts of the U.S. government (expert interviews). The research agenda identified the barriers that would need to be addressed and the questions that would need to be answered to promote operationally relevant, focused, applied social and behavioral science research that would inform decision- and policymakers and assist operational partners in mitigating the crimes of labor trafficking and human trafficking more broadly. This report describes the authors' methods, findings, and recommendations.