The Deterrent Effect of Ride-Sharing on Sexual Assault and Investigation of Situational Contingencies
Information Systems Research (Forthcoming)
103 Pages Posted: 11 Apr 2017 Last revised: 21 Sep 2020
Date Written: September 18, 2020
Sexual assault is one of the most repellant and costly crimes, which inflicts irrecoverable harms on victims and society. This study examines the effect of IT-enabled ride-sharing platforms on sexual assaults. Drawing upon routine activity theory from the criminology literature, we posit that ride-sharing can reduce a passenger’s risk of being a suitable target of sexual assault by providing a more reliable and timely transportation option for traveling to a safer place. By exploiting the nationwide quasi-experimental setting of Uber’s city-by-city rollouts in the United States during 2005–2017, we demonstrate that Uber’s entry into a city is negatively associated with the number of rape incidents. To zoom into the effects of ride-sharing at a more granular level, we employ precinct-hour level data on Uber pickups and rape occurrences in New York City in 2015 and conduct spatiotemporal analyses. Our results from the spatiotemporal analyses corroborate those of the quasi-experiment and further reveal situational contingencies in the deterrent effect of ride-sharing. Specifically, ride-sharing contributes to a more significant reduction in the likelihood of rape occurrences in neighborhoods with limited transportation accessibility, and ride-sharing is more effective in deterring sexual crime in riskier circumstances, such as around alcohol-serving places on weekend nights or when the probability of crime occurrences increases. This study sheds new light on the potential of IT-enabled platforms to improve social well-being beyond their economic contributions and offers a new theoretical insight on the distinct role of digital platforms in public safety.
Keywords: Ride-Sharing, Sharing Economy, Sexual Assault, Criminology, Routine Activity Theory, Societal Impact of Information Systems
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