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The Reporting and Underreporting of Rape


  • W. David Allen

    () (Department of Economics & Finance, College of Administrative Science, University of Alabama in Huntsville, Huntsville, AL 35899)


A rape victim possesses a scarce resource: information about the crime. Thus, a victim's decision to report the crime to police, to allocate that resource, becomes an economic choice. A victim cannot receive social support or legal justice without revealing such information, but doing so creates real costs—social recrimination and lost privacy—with no guarantee of offender apprehension. This article explores the economics of the reporting and chronic nonreporting of rape in the context of this information-allocation problem. The empirical analysis addresses the extent to which social-support availability and evidentiary factors influence the reporting decision. Dichotomous and multinomial logit results, obtained using National Crime Survey data on a sample of rape victims, reveal how various demographic and crime-specific factors explain the decision to report and the selection of specific reasons for not reporting. Some of these factors reflect circumstances addressable as matters of procedure or policy.

Suggested Citation

  • W. David Allen, 2007. "The Reporting and Underreporting of Rape," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 73(3), pages 623-641, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:sej:ancoec:v:73:3:y:2007:p:623-641

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    Cited by:

    1. Caruso, Raul, 2014. "What is the relationship between unemployment and rape? Evidence from a panel of European regions," MPRA Paper 54725, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Allen, W. David, 2009. "Interview effects in the reporting of domestic violence," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 288-300, March.
    3. Kahn-Lang, Ariella, 2008. "Why Don’t Rape and Sexual Assault Victims Report? A Study of How the Psycho-Social Costs of Reporting Affect a Victim’s Decision to Report," MPRA Paper 43249, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Gorinas, Cédric, 2018. "A Detailed Analysis of Childhood Victimization Using National Registers: Forms and Sequencing of Violence and Domestic Abuse," IZA Discussion Papers 11398, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law


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