Download this Paper Open PDF in Browser

The Economics of Rape: Will Victims Pay for Police Involvement?

39 Pages Posted: 21 May 2009  

Jordan D. Matsudaira

Cornell University - Department of Policy Analysis and Management

Emily Greene Owens

Cornell University

Date Written: May 20, 2009

Abstract

In 2006, approximately 49% of violent crimes were not reported to police. Being the victim of sexual assault is expensive; each incident imposes an external cost of over $100k on the victim. However, recent estimates of the total social cost are an order of magnitude larger suggesting that from a social welfare standpoint rape is likely to be underreported if the victim's demand for reporting is price elastic. In spite of the centrality of victim reporting in the functioning of the criminal justice system, to date there is very little systematic evidence on what governments can do to encourage victims to report crimes. We estimate the sensitivity of victims to the cost of reporting in an Alaskan city between 1993 and 2006, during which time a chief of police publicly supported a policy of charging victims of sexual assault for medical procedures required to collect evidence against their attackers. Using a triple differences approach that compares trends in reported sexual assaults to other index crimes over time and across Alaskan cities, we estimate that this shift in cost of approximately $1,200 from the city government to victims reduced the number of reported rapes by between 50 and 80%. This large response highlights the importance of public policies which reduce the private cost of reporting crime.

Keywords: Sexual Assault, Crime Reporting, Externalities

JEL Classification: K14, K42, H3

Suggested Citation

Matsudaira, Jordan D. and Owens, Emily Greene, The Economics of Rape: Will Victims Pay for Police Involvement? (May 20, 2009). CELS 2009 4th Annual Conference on Empirical Legal Studies Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1407636 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1407636

Jordan D. Matsudaira

Cornell University - Department of Policy Analysis and Management ( email )

Ithaca, NY 14853
United States

Emily Greene Owens (Contact Author)

Cornell University ( email )

120 Martha Van Rensselaer Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
United States

Paper statistics

Downloads
274
Rank
92,685
Abstract Views
2,145