Alcohol and Rape: An Economics-of-Crime Perspective

56 Pages Posted: 26 Feb 2007

See all articles by Bruce L. Benson

Bruce L. Benson

Florida State University - Department of Economics; Florida State University College of Law

Paul R. Zimmerman

U.S. Federal Trade Commission - Bureau of Economics

Date Written: February 2007

Abstract

Using a panel of state-level data over the years 1982-2000, this study explores the potential relationship between alcohol policy, alcohol consumption, and rape by considering a number of theoretical and methodological issues. First, the potential relationship is examined in the context of an economics-of-crime model, controlling for various deterrence and opportunity cost variables. Second, unlike most studies, consumption of liquor and wine are considered as well as consumption of beer. A third focus is on the potential endogeneity of alcohol consumption. A fourth consideration dictates the focus on rape rates rather than other violent crime rates. Several studies have discovered a tendency for relatively high alcohol consumption by both offenders and victims. Since rape victims are virtually all female, and at least some alcohol policy variables appear to have differential impacts on females and heavy-drinking males, an examination of policy impacts for rape rates, unlike other types of violent crime, can suggest the nature of the alcohol-consumption-violence relationship. The empirical results support an "alcohol increases potential victims vulnerability" hypothesis. In the context of the economic theory of crime, this lowers the expected cost of rape to potential offenders and raises rape rates. Tests for endogeneity of alcohol consumption and resulting simultaneous equation estimates reinforce this implication because they suggest that victims respond to relatively high rape rates by reducing alcohol consumption.

Suggested Citation

Benson, Bruce L. and Zimmerman, Paul R., Alcohol and Rape: An Economics-of-Crime Perspective (February 2007). Florida State University College of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 248, FSU College of Law, Law and Economics Paper No. 07-009, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=965513 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.965513

Bruce L. Benson (Contact Author)

Florida State University - Department of Economics ( email )

Tallahassee, FL 30306-2180
United States
850-644-7094 (Phone)
850-644-4535 (Fax)

Florida State University College of Law

425 W. Jefferson Street
Tallahassee, FL 32306
United States

Paul R. Zimmerman

U.S. Federal Trade Commission - Bureau of Economics ( email )

601 New Jersey Ave. NW
Rm. 8103
Washington, DC 20580
United States

HOME PAGE: http://paul.r.zimmerman.googlepages.com/

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