Sep 25 • 4 min read

New research from Temple University faculty member Min-Seok Pang shows that ridesharing services have helped decrease rape cases in large metropolitan areas

PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 25, 2020 — The first-person accounts have often been chilling. They’ve been frequent, too.

Since ridesharing’s introduction as a mainstream transportation service, companies like Uber and Lyft have routinely found themselves in the news with drivers facing accusations of sexual assault or harassment. However, new research from Temple University faculty member Min-Seok Pang details how ridesharing might also play a key role in keeping people safe, too.

“Beginning around 2015 or so, we saw that ridesharing drivers were committing crimes and sexual assaults, and that became really big news,” says Pang, an associate professor of Management Information Systems and the Milton F. Stauffer Research Fellow at Temple’s Fox School of Business. “But it also implored us to take a closer look at the data to find out what that says.”

Recently accepted for publication in Information Systems Research, “The Deterrent Effect of Ride-Sharing on Sexual Assault and Investigation of Situational Contingencies” outlines how ridesharing has actually helped deter sexual assault in major metropolitan areas. It also outlines how New York City communities could benefit from increased ridesharing.

The study, co-authored by Jiyong Park of the University of North Carolina’s Bryan School of Business and Economics, Byungtae Lee of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science Technology and Junetae Kim, uses a modeing tool to establish a link between ride-sharing availability and sexual assault incidents. Using data from 2005-2017, the study finds that the entry of Uber into a city is significantly associated with a reduction in the number of rape incidents. A total of 377 urbanized areas were used as part of the study, which accounts for approximately 96% of the total population of the United States’ 486 urbanized areas.

According to the study, from 2005-2017, rape cases have gone down by an average of 1% during the first year that ridesharing was introduced in a city. Fast forward to five years following the introduction of ridesharing and rape cases are down even more, nearly 6%. 

“Prior to ridesharing, it could be difficult to get a ride or transportation if you’re leaving a bar at 2:00 in the morning. This is especially true if you’re not in an area like Manhattan or Philadelphia’s Center City. Many crimes happen when a person has to walk for a long distance in a dangerous neighborhood or at a dangerous time. People do that because it’s hard to find a taxi or it’s hard to find a way home,” Pang says. “Violent crimes like rape are more likely to happen in this instances, which outlines the significance of this study. Because of ridesharing, potential victims now have another way home. They now have another way to safety.”

The study even more closely looked at New York City during the first half of 2015, which provided comprehensive data on the location and time of both Uber pickups and rape incidents. According to the paper, a 1% increase in Uber pickups could lead to a reduction in rape incidents by as many as 44 to 48 cases per year.

“Ridesharing drivers can be dangerous people. We’re certainly not saying that they’re not committing crimes,” Pang says. “However, the good people who work for Uber or Lyft might also be helping to keep the innocent away from other potential dangerous people, too. That’s the key takeaway of this study.”


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Management Information SystemsMilton F. Stauffer Research FellowMin-Seok PangRidesharingSexual HarassmentUber