Quarterly Journal of Political Science > Vol 13 > Issue 3

Does Rape Culture Predict Rape? Evidence from U.S. Newspapers, 2000–2013

Matthew A. Baum, John F. Kennedy School of Government, USA, Matthew_Baum@hks.harvard.edu , Dara Kay Cohen, John F. Kennedy School of Government, USA, dara_cohen@hks.harvard.edu , Yuri M. Zhukov, University of Michigan, USA, zhukov@umich.edu
Suggested Citation
Matthew A. Baum, Dara Kay Cohen and Yuri M. Zhukov (2018), "Does Rape Culture Predict Rape? Evidence from U.S. Newspapers, 2000–2013", Quarterly Journal of Political Science: Vol. 13: No. 3, pp 263-289. http://dx.doi.org/10.1561/100.00016124

Publication Date: 30 Aug 2018
© 2018 M. A. Baum, D. K. Cohen and Y. M. Zhukov
Gender and ethnicity,  Law and economics,  Media and entertainment,  Courts,  Law
Rapesex crimeseconomics of crimenews media analysisrape culturesexual assault


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In this article:
Causes of Rape and Sexual Violence 
A New Model of Rape Culture 
News Content as an Indicator of Local Rape Culture 
Measuring Rape Culture 
Regression Analysis 


We offer the first quantitative analysis of rape culture in the United States. Observers have long worried that biased news coverage of rape — which blames victims, empathizes with perpetrators, implies consent, and questions victims' credibility — may deter victims from coming forward, and ultimately increase the incidence of rape. We present a theory of how rape culture might shape the preferences and choices of perpetrators, victims and law enforcement, and test this theory with data on news stories about rape published in U.S. newspapers between 2000 and 2013. We find that rape culture in the media predicts both the frequency of rape and its pursuit through the local criminal justice system. In jurisdictions where rape culture was more prevalent, there were more documented rape cases, but authorities were less vigilant in pursuing them.