January 2018

IZA DP No. 11274: Intimate Partner Violence and the Business Cycle

R&R World Bank Economic Review

We examine the impact of business cycle variation on intimate partner violence using representative data from thirty one developing countries, through 2005 to 2016. We distinguish male from female unemployment rates, identifying the influence of each conditional upon the other. We find that a one percent increase in the male unemployment rate increases the incidence of physical violence against women by 0.50 percentage points, or 2.75 percent. This is consistent with the financial and psychological stress generated by unemployment. Increases in female unemployment rates (corresponding to decreases in women's employment opportunities), conditional upon rates of male unemployment reduce the incidence of violence; a one percent increase being associated with a decrease in the probability of victimization of 0.52 percentage points, or 2.87 percent. This is consistent with 'male backlash'. These patterns of behaviour are stronger among better educated women and weaker among women who have had at least one son.