Rape and Porn: Substitutes?

by F.

I hesitate to post this because just the presence of these two words (“rape” and “porn”) on my blog will likely attract the wierdos like a twofer coupon for Chili’s. But I can’t resist.

Here’s the abstract from a paper by an economist at Clemson:

The arrival of the internet caused a large decline in both the pecuniary and non-pecuniary costs of accessing pornography. Using state-level panel data from 1998-2003, I find that the arrival of the internet was associated with a reduction in rape incidence. However, growth in internet usage had no apparent effect on other crimes.

Moreover, when I disaggregate the rape data by offender age, I find that the effect of the internet on rape is concentrated among those for whom the internet-induced fall in the non-pecuniary price of pornography was the largest—men ages 15-19, who typically live with their parents.

These results, which suggest that pornography and rape are substitutes, are in contrast with most previous literature. However, earlier population-level studies do not control adequately for many omitted variables, including the age distribution of the population, and most laboratory studies simply do not allow for potential substitutability between pornography and rape.

The paper is here. I’m sure this paper will be subjected to serious scrutiny. It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out.

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