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Banning the purchase of prostitution increases rape: evidence from Sweden

Ciacci, Riccardo (2018): Banning the purchase of prostitution increases rape: evidence from Sweden.

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Abstract

In this paper I exploit IV techniques to study the effect of banning the purchase of prostitution on rape using Swedish regional data from 1997 to 2014. Recent economic literature reported evidence on the effect of decriminalizing prostitution on rape. Yet, little is known on the effect of criminalizing prostitution on rape. This paper exploits plausibly exogenous within and across regions variation in access to sex tourism to assess the impact of banning the purchase of prostitution on rape. I find that this regulation raises rape temporarily. In particular, this regulation increased reported rape by 47% between 1999 and 2014. Moreover, my findings show that this regulation also changes the composition of rapes committed: increasing completed and outdoor rapes, and reducing attempted rapes. This empirical evidence suggests that the increment in rapes is due to a shift of the demand of prostitution, while I find no evidence supporting that such an increment is supply driven.

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