Study Finds Sexual Assault Rates Are Higher in the General Population Than on College Campuses

A new study led by William Axinn, a professor of sociology and public policy at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research, finds that one in four women in the United States will experience forced intercourse by the time they’re 44 years old. But the study finds that the risk is greater for women who have attended little or no college compared to those who have completed four or more years of college.

Professor Axinn’s data shows that women who have no or little college education are 2.5 times as likely to have experienced forced sexual intercourse than women with a four-year college education. His data also showed that 8 percent of men had experienced forced sex. And men with out a college education were four times as likely to be victims than college-educated men.

In explaining the higher victimization rate of non-college students, Professor Axinn says that “although a campus puts men and women in close physical proximity to each other, it does so in a pretty structured environment: dorm living, supervised classes, libraries. There are people everywhere. People of the same age who are not enrolled in college may have less supervision in their lives.”

Professor Axinn says that “we’re paying so much attention to the on-campus issue and not giving enough attention to young people who are not fortunate enough to be enrolled in college.”

The study, “General Population Estimates of the Association Between College Experience and the Odds of Forced Intercourse,” was published on the website of the journal Social Science Research. It may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Research/StudySexual Assault/Harassment


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  1. Sherry Marts says:

    Yet another egregious example of confusing correlation with causality. There are so many reasons OTHER than attendance at a college or university that would reduce the chances that a woman with a four-year degree will be the target of sexual assault, not the least of which is the type of employment she is qualified to pursue.

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