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Broadband Internet: An Information Superhighway to Sex Crime?

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Listed:
  • Manudeep Bhuller
  • Tarjei Havnes
  • Edwin Leuven
  • Magne Mogstad

Abstract

Does internet use trigger sex crime? We use unique Norwegian data on crime and internet adoption to shed light on this question. A public program with limited funding rolled out broadband access points in 2000--2008, and provides plausibly exogenous variation in internet use. Our instrumental variables estimates show that internet use is associated with a substantial increase in both reports, charges and convictions of rape and other sex crimes. We present a conceptual framework that highlights three mechanisms for how internet use may affect reported sex crime, namely a reporting effect, a matching effect on potential offenders and victims, and a direct effect on sex crime propensity. To investigate the importance of these mechanisms, we use data on individual reporting behaviour, police investigations, and criminal charges and convictions. None of the analyses we perform suggest that the positive relationship between internet use and sex crime is driven by changes in reporting behaviour. Our findings suggest that the direct effect on sex crime propensity is positive and non-negligible, possibly as a result of increased consumption of pornography. Copyright 2013, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Manudeep Bhuller & Tarjei Havnes & Edwin Leuven & Magne Mogstad, 2013. "Broadband Internet: An Information Superhighway to Sex Crime?," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 80(4), pages 1237-1266.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:restud:v:80:y:2013:i:4:p:1237-1266
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    Cited by:

    1. Ruben Enikolopov & Maria Petrova & Konstantin Sonin, 2018. "Social Media and Corruption," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 150-174, January.
    2. Benjamin Faber & Rosa Sanchis-Guarner & Felix Weinhardt, 2015. "ICT and Education: Evidence from Student Home Addresses," SERC Discussion Papers 0186, Spatial Economics Research Centre, LSE.
    3. Oliver Falck & Constantin Mang & Ludger Woessmann, 2018. "Virtually No Effect? Different Uses of Classroom Computers and their Effect on Student Achievement," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 80(1), pages 1-38, February.
    4. Liang, Che-Yuan & Nordin, Mattias, 2012. "The Internet, News Consumption, and Political Attitudes," Working Paper Series 2012:14, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
    5. Wiederhold, Simon & Falck, Oliver & Heimisch, Alexandra, 2015. "Returns to ICT Skills," Annual Conference 2015 (Muenster): Economic Development - Theory and Policy 112803, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    6. Stefano DellaVigna & Eliana La Ferrara, 2015. "Economic and Social Impacts of the Media," NBER Working Papers 21360, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Enikolopov, Ruben & Makarin, Alexey & Petrova, Maria, 2016. "Social Media and Protest Participation: Evidence from Russia," CEPR Discussion Papers 11254, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    8. Owsiński, Jan W. & Pielak, Aneta M. & Sęp, Krzysztof, 2013. "Smartness, culture and local authority ICT awareness: an empirical enquiry for a province in Poland," Studies in Agricultural Economics, Research Institute for Agricultural Economics, vol. 0(Number 2), pages 1-8, June.
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    15. Gabriella Conti & Rita Ginja, 2017. "Who benefits from free health insurance: evidence from Mexico," IFS Working Papers W17/26, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    16. Müller, Karsten & Schwarz, Carlo, 2018. "Fanning the Flames of Hate: Social Media and Hate Crime," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 373, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    17. Jason Chan & Anindya Ghose & Robert Seamans, 2013. "The Internet and Hate Crime: Offline Spillovers from Online Access," Working Papers 13-02, NET Institute.
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    19. Briglauer, Wolfgang & Dürr, Niklas S. & Falck, Oliver & Hüschelrath, Kai, 2016. "Does state aid for broadband deployment in rural areas close the digital and economic divide?," ZEW Discussion Papers 16-064, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    20. Abdallah Salami & Robert Seamans, 2014. "The Effect of the Internet on Newspaper Readability," Working Papers 14-13, NET Institute.
    21. Chen, Daniel L. & Yeh, Susan, 2016. "How Do Rights Revolutions Occur? Free Speech and the First Amendment," IAST Working Papers 16-51, Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse (IAST).
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • H40 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - General
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution

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