Économie et Statistique n° 448-449 - 2012Minimum Wage - Victimization
Determinants of complaint filings: the type of assault suffered is far more decisive than the victim's characteristics
The five types of personal assault (excluding sexual assault and household violence) observed in the Insee surveys on Living Environment and Security (Cadre de Vie et Sécurité: CVS) are: personal theft and attempted theft (violent and non-violent), physical assault, threats, and insults. Complaint rates vary widely, from 3% for insults to 42% for violent theft. In many cases, filing a complaint initiates action by the police and gendarmerie, and largely determines the correctional procedures of the criminal justice system. Therefore, a better knowledge of the determinants of complaint filings has important implications for public policy. The key determinant of the victim's decision to file a complaint is the type of assault perpetrated. The formal characteristics of the incident (did the victim know the perpetrator or not) or its context (repetition and/or multiplicity of incidents) have a significant but far weaker effect. The socio-occupational category, household living standards, and age of the victim also explain the propensity to file complaints. These three sets of factors effectively form part of the “economics of complaint filing” as documented in the literature, and they yield the most robust results. A separate analysis of each type of assault gives us additional information on the circumstances of the incident, which are specific to each of those types. The explanatory factors differ by type of attack. For theft, the factors are: the success of the theft, the kind of object stolen, and its value. For violent assault, the factor is the victim's need to see a doctor. For threats and insults, the major determinants are the victim's educational attainment and age.