Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Industrial and Entrepreneurial Engineering and Engineering Management

First Advisor

Steven Butt, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Azim Houshyar, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

David Lyth, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

David Lyth, Ph.D.


DTMC, lifetime, Markov, model, sex trafficking, victimization


This research is an original approach that applies industrial engineering and operations research tools to the sociological problem of sex trafficking victimization. Such an approach enables quantitative evaluation of the impacts on an individual’s lifetime by anti-trafficking efforts and public policies.

A fully interconnected, lifetime model for the experience of sex trafficking victimization is defined as the result of a comprehensive review of literature. Beginning with victimization risk, the defined model is an anticipatory tool to understand the incidences and consequences to individuals during their lifetime. This research develops the model further into a Discrete-Time Markov Chain (DTMC) with definitions of variable-form calculations, as well as demonstration of calculation and sensitivity analysis on a published case study dataset. Open-source Decision Support Systems (DSSs) are also presented to aid with dataset evaluation.

Several theoretical and applied results were achieved through this work. Parameters evaluated included: expected time in each state, life expectancy, probability of transition to defined states, as well as maximum likelihood of presence in a state. Of particular significance in the sensitivity analysis results is the importance of initial victimization risk and the likelihood of intervention for magnitude of impact on the lifetime experiences.

The model, DTMC definition, DSSs, and overall approach to analysis supports ongoing considerations towards resource allocation and public policy. Guidelines for future research are presented.


Fifth advisor: Jennifer Klauth, L.M.S.W.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access