The Effects of Social Movements: Evidence from #MeToo
57 Pages Posted: 24 Dec 2019
Date Written: December 2, 2019
Social movements are associated with large changes in norms and behavior, but evidence on their causal effects is limited. We study the effect of the MeToo movement on a high stakes personal decision—reporting a sexual crime to the police. We construct a new dataset of sexual and non-sexual crimes in 24 OECD countries, covering 81 percent of the OECD population. We analyze the effect of the MeToo movement by employing a triple difference strategy over time, across countries, and between crime types. We find that the movement increased reporting of sexual crimes by 14 percent during its first three months. While the effect slightly declines over time, the movement had a strong effect even 15 months after it started. We use more detailed US data to show that despite the increase in crimes reported, the movement did not increase the number of sexual crimes cleared by the police. In contrast to a common criticism of the movement, we do not find evidence for substantial differences in the effect across racial and socioeconomic groups. Our results suggest that social movements can rapidly change high stakes personal decisions.
Keywords: Social movements, Social norms, Sexual crime, Crime reporting, #MeToo
JEL Classification: D7, J16, K14 ,K42
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