EconPapers    
Economics at your fingertips  
 

Why Is Workplace Sexual Harassment Underreported? The Value of Outside Options Amid the Threat of Retaliation

Gordon Dahl and Matthew Knepper ()

No 9320, CESifo Working Paper Series from CESifo

Abstract: Why is workplace sexual harassment chronically underreported? We hypothesize that employers coerce victims into silence through the threat of a retaliatory firing, and test this theory by estimating whether external shocks that reduce the value of a worker’s outside options exacerbate underreporting. Under mild assumptions, a rise in the severity of formal complaints is indicative of increased underreporting. Combining this insight with an objective measure of the quality of charges filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), we perform two analyses. First, we assess whether workers report sexual harassment more selectively during recessions, when outside labor market options are limited. We estimate the fraction of sexual harassment charges deemed to have merit by the EEOC increases by 0.5-0.7% for each one percentage point increase in a state-industry’s monthly unemployment rate. The effect is amplified in industries employing a larger fraction of men and in establishments with a higher share of male managers. Second, we test whether less generous UI benefits create economic incentives for victims of workplace sexual harassment to remain silent. We find the selectivity of sexual harassment charges increases by more than 30% in response to a 50% cut to North Carolina’s Unemployment Insurance (UI) program following the Great Recession.

Keywords: sexual harassment; unemployment; unemployment insurance (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: J71 J78 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-ias and nep-lma
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: Track citations by RSS feed

Downloads: (external link)
https://www.cesifo.org/DocDL/cesifo1_wp9320.pdf (application/pdf)

Related works:
Working Paper: Why is Workplace Sexual Harassment Underreported? The Value of Outside Options Amid the Threat of Retaliation (2021) Downloads
Working Paper: Why Is Workplace Sexual Harassment Underreported? The Value of outside Options amid the Threat of Retaliation (2021) Downloads
Working Paper: Why is Workplace Sexual Harassment Underreported? The Value of Outside Options Amid the Threat of Retaliation (2021) Downloads
This item may be available elsewhere in EconPapers: Search for items with the same title.

Export reference: BibTeX RIS (EndNote, ProCite, RefMan) HTML/Text

Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:ces:ceswps:_9320

Access Statistics for this paper

More papers in CESifo Working Paper Series from CESifo Contact information at EDIRC.
Bibliographic data for series maintained by Klaus Wohlrabe ().

 
Page updated 2022-01-14
Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_9320