Can the Economic Cost of Rape Even be Estimated?
By Alan M. Solomon, Ph.D.
The prevalence of rape in the U.S. is now estimated to be 19.3% of women and 1.7% of men. Decreased mental and physical health, both short-term and long-term, is well substantiated at this time. There is also a lifetime economic cost as well, due to impacted health, lost productivity, and the effects of being engaged in the criminal justice system. (article online at: http://bit.ly/KenPopeLifetimeEconomicBurdenofRape)
Compared to individuals who do not experience a rape, the lifetime cost for a victim is estimated to be almost $122,500. For the U.S. as a whole, this translates into a total cost of roughly $3.1 trillion (estimated cost per individual multiplied by the number of U.S. adults who have been raped). Annually, this would be about $263 billion for the country as a whole. This study does not include intangible costs, such as pain and suffering, which is difficult to monetize.
More specific health outcomes include: gastrointestinal issues, high cholesterol, HIV risk, more generalized pain, obesity, and urinary tract symptoms for victims of rape. Since women tend to be paid less than men, this cost estimate is a likely underestimate in the more specific area of lost productivity or wages earned.
While this economic cost is very substantial, and perhaps a bit shocking, the ongoing human cost of suffering, not easily measured, is even more meaningful. Adults who have been traumatized in this way, are more at risk of raising children who are also impacted, if not traumatized themselves. The importance of interventions to help with both the physical and mental health aspects of rape seems clear and compelling.
Alan M. Solomon, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Torrance, CA. A member of the Independent Psychotherapy Network, he can be reached at 310 539-2772 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright 2017 by Alan M. Solomon, Ph.D.