The Impact of Gender Inequality on Rape Rates in U.S. Cities: A Racially Disaggregated Analysis

Lynne M. Vieraitis, University of Alabama - Birmingham
Sarah Eschholz, Georgia State University

While most criminological theories predict that general economic inequality and racial inequality should produce higher rape rates, there is little consensus among theories as to the direction of the effect of gender inequality. According to the feminist perspective, both gender inequality and gender equality could increase rape rates, the former increasing the structural disadvantage of women, and the latter representing a "backlash" effect. In addition, rape is known to be primarily an intraracial crime, but the impact of race-specific gender inequality has never been tested. In order to fill the gap left by previous research, the present study measures the impact of race-specific gender inequality, measured along economic, educational, and occupational dimensions, on race-specific rape rates using city-level data from 1990.

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Updated 05/20/2006