An Unheralded Victory

In a recent, excellent Agitator post one statistic stood out to me. According to this table, the incidence of reported rapes per 1000 women has dropped by a factor of six in the last twenty years. This is a much greater reduction than for the other crimes in the list, which have also dropped but by factors of "only" 2.5 to 3, so it can't be explained just by the general downward trend in violent crime.

Now there are lots and lots of problems with crime rate data, as with all such data. But if that result is accurate, it's amazing. It's arguably one of the greatest victories for women's rights in our generation. And it makes me wonder: where's the analysis? Why aren't people trying, in public at least, to figure out why this happened and what might be done to make sure the trend continues? Because there isn't an obvious reason; social conditions have not undergone any huge up-front change that would explain a sixfold reduction, nor have there been any grand ambitious government programs with such a reduction as the central aim.

This seems like a job for the Freakonomics guys.

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