Yale University Study Finds a Major Impact of the #MeToo Movement on Sexual Assault Reporting

A new study by Ro’ee Levy and Martin Mattsson, two male doctoral candidates in economics at Yale University, finds that the #MeToo movement that raised awareness of sexual misconduct and exposed several high-profile cases of predatory behavior by powerful men also produced a significant increase in the reporting of sex crimes in the United States and abroad.

The authors found that in the first three months after the movement launched on social media, there was a 7 percent increase in the number of reported sexual assaults. This increase accounted for the reporting of about 4,600 additional crimes and was spread evenly across racial and socioeconomic groups.

The researchers also examined the movement’s effect in 24 countries belonging to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. They found that the movement caused a 14 percent increase in sex-crime reporting during that initial three-month period, representing an additional 11,600 reported cases in countries with strong #MeToo movements, such as Canada and Sweden.

The movement’s effects on the reporting of sexual assault persisted in the United States and internationally through 2018, according to the study.

“Our analysis refutes the argument that the #MeToo movement, although important, only affects high-profile people and has had little impact within the general public,” Levy said. “Our analysis demonstrates that it has substantially and persistently altered public behavior, which has led to significant increases in sex-crime reporting. This result aligns with the movement’s emphasis on speaking out and holding people accountable for their bad behavior.”

The working paper, “The Effects of Social Movements: Evidence from #MeToo,” may be downloaded by clicking here.

Filed Under: Research/StudySexual Assault/Harassment


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