Applied Seminar

Sofia Amaral

ifo Institute, University of Munich


Seminar 3 – 14:30


Sexual harassment lowers female economic empowerment, but it is challenging to address this pervasive issue in public spaces. Using a place-based randomized control trial, we study the effect of a special police task force on a novel high-frequency and micro-level observation exercise of sexual harassment. We show that visible police presence reduces severe forms of sexual harassment by 24 percent. Undercover policing does not impact the incidence of harassment. Using two experiments, we find that police officers’ detection capacity, willingness to sanction, and effort in the investigation are lower in sexual harassment offenses but not other crimes—although they respond to financial incentives, these do not improve detection capacity. We conclude that addressing sexual harassment in complex urban places through the lens of policing poses a significant challenge due to the nature of the crime despite officers’ compliance with the treatment.

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