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Banning the purchase of prostitution increases rape: evidence from Sweden


  • Ciacci, Riccardo


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.

Suggested Citation

  • Ciacci, Riccardo, 2018. "Banning the purchase of prostitution increases rape: evidence from Sweden," MPRA Paper 100393, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 01 May 2020.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:100393

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    Cited by:

    1. Peter Backus & Thien Nguyen, 2021. "The Effect of the Sex Buyer Law on the Market for Sex, Sexual Health and Sexual Violence," Economics Discussion Paper Series 2106, Economics, The University of Manchester.

    More about this item


    Rape; sex crimes; prostitution; prostitution law; prostitution regulation; criminalizing purchase of prostitution; Nordic model; instrumental variables estimation;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C26 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Instrumental Variables (IV) Estimation
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J47 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Coercive Labor Markets
    • K14 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Criminal Law

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