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October 24, 2006

Porn and rape: Complements or substitues?

When my friends doubt that economics can offer a way of looking at anything, stuff like this is what I have in mind:

Are rape and pornography complements (so that consumption of one increases proclivity to consume the other) or substitutes (so that consuming one makes the other less desirable)? I presume that most people on both sides of this question are unlikely to change them in response to empirical evidence unless it is crystal clear. Still, David Friedman discusses an interesting paper by Todd Kendall that attempts to show that they are substitutes, using internet access as a proxy for pornography consumption.And here is a paper running the same argument about violence and violent movies. (That link is via Tyler Cowen).UPDATE: Glen Whitman reads the same blogs I do, and draws the same connection.