Lifetime Economic Burden of Rape Among U.S. Adults

Am J Prev Med. 2017 Jun;52(6):691-701. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2016.11.014. Epub 2017 Jan 30.


Introduction: This study estimated the per-victim U.S. lifetime cost of rape.

Methods: Data from previous studies was combined with current administrative data and 2011 U.S. National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey data in a mathematical model. Rape was defined as any lifetime completed or attempted forced penetration or alcohol- or drug-facilitated penetration, measured among adults not currently institutionalized. Costs included attributable impaired health, lost productivity, and criminal justice costs from the societal perspective. Average age at first rape was assumed to be 18 years. Future costs were discounted by 3%. The main outcome measures were the average per-victim (female and male) and total population discounted lifetime cost of rape. Secondary outcome measures were marginal outcome probabilities among victims (e.g., suicide attempt) and perpetrators (e.g., incarceration) and associated costs. Analysis was conducted in 2016.

Results: The estimated lifetime cost of rape was $122,461 per victim, or a population economic burden of nearly $3.1 trillion (2014 U.S. dollars) over victims' lifetimes, based on data indicating >25 million U.S. adults have been raped. This estimate included $1.2 trillion (39% of total) in medical costs; $1.6 trillion (52%) in lost work productivity among victims and perpetrators; $234 billion (8%) in criminal justice activities; and $36 billion (1%) in other costs, including victim property loss or damage. Government sources pay an estimated $1 trillion (32%) of the lifetime economic burden.

Conclusions: Preventing sexual violence could avoid substantial costs for victims, perpetrators, healthcare payers, employers, and government payers. These findings can inform evaluations of interventions to reduce sexual violence.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Health Care Costs / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Intimate Partner Violence* / economics
  • Intimate Partner Violence* / psychology
  • Intimate Partner Violence* / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Rape / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States