Alcohol, Behavioral Norms and Sexual Violence on U.S. College Campuses

Category: Applied Microeconomics and Organization Seminar
When: 08 December 2021
, 14:15
 - 15:30
Where: Frankfurt School

Title: Alcohol, Behavioral Norms and Sexual Violence on U.S. College Campuses" (joint with Julia Hoefer)

Abstract: This paper explores the role of social norms in influencing the incidence of sexual assault, and the contribution of alcohol to such events. We build a decision theoretic model where agents may choose to use alcohol as a "disinhibitor" to undermine social norms discouraging consensual sexual encounters outside marriage. This has the side-effect of making non-consensual encounters more likely. By making the resort to alcohol more attractive, stronger norms against consensual sex may increase the overall incidence of non-consensual sex. We test this theory on data from US college campuses: colleges located in counties without Planned Parenthood clinics have more incidents of rape and sexual assault in which alcohol is implicated, but not more incidents without alcohol. Religiously affiliated campuses, especially Catholic ones, also have higher rates, as do colleges that are members of the national athletic association. We explore rival explanations such as reporting and selection biases. Estimates on a restricted sub-sample for which attitudinal data are available show a significant association of assault with the proportion of students expressing strong disapproval of consensual pre-marital sex. Restrictions on availability of alcohol help reduce the frequency of such incidents.


Organization of the seminar:

  • This seminar is planned as face-to-face event at the Frankfurt School.
  • The 3G rule applies to participation in the seminar, i.e. you can only take part in person, if you are either vaccinated, tested or recovered from Covid. Please carry the respective certificate with you.
  • There is a general obligation to wear medical masks in the buildings of Frankfurt School and Goethe University. The obligation to wear medical masks may be omitted based on a distance and hygiene concept after reaching a seat.
  • Detailed information will follow in the invitation email