Broadband Internet: An Information Superhighway to Sex Crime?
By: Tarjei Havnes with Edwin Leuven, Magne Mogstad and M. S. Bhuller
The Review of Economic Studies 2013, Vol. 80.(4) p. 1237-1266.
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 and fixed effect estimates show that internet use is associated with a substantial increase in reported incidences of rape and other sex crimes. We present a theoretical 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 crime propensity. Our results indicate that the direct effect is non-negligible and positive, plausibly as a result of increased consumption of pornography.