Sunday, July 05, 2009

More porn less rape

here's an interesting item showing that increased availability of pornography decreases the incidence of rape. The overall correlation looks pretty strong. A more formal study, using Internet availability as a proxy for porn seems to reinforce  the finding.

Of course, with any correlation over time there is a big problem with spuriousness. Increased availability of pornography was probably not the only thing to change over the last 30 years. The cost of reporting rape decreased while the cost of committing rape, due in part to the very decrease in reporting cost, probably increased. There has been a cultural and social shift, making rape less acceptable. And while pornography has become more available, so has sex itself presumably. The same relaxing of mores that makes pornography more acceptable and available presumably has the same effect on sex. Also, it may be harder to commit rape. In movies nowadays you see women fighting just as if they were men practically. Even if this is unrealistic, it might mean that women are much more likely to resist violently, making the crime harder to commit.

The deeper and more interesting question is whether sex and rape our substitute goods or complements? Both social conservatives and feminists, through slightly different arguments, must maintain that they are complements. Both of them are forms of objectification of women. Therefore, the more you have the one the more you want of the other.

There also seem to be the possibility that even if one did reduce rape it might also reduce other things, like the quality of relationships and the stability of marriages.

I think we should always be suspicious of time series showing some broad, general trend of improvement and attributing it to one causal factor. Things in general tend to get better because people have an incentive to make them better.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Any idea how credit crunch affected porn?


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killergram