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Domestic Violence, Employment and Divorce


  • Audra J. Bowlus

    () (The University of Western Ontario, Department of Economics)

  • Shannon N. Seitz

    () (Department of Economics, Queen's University)


Using unique, representative data on domestic violence, we document several stylized facts on abuse: the average characteristics of abused wives and abusive husbands are markedly different than the characteristics of individuals in non-violent marriages, the vast majority of violent marriages end in divorce, and employment rates are lower for women who experience abuse. We then construct a sequential model of employment, marriage and abuse. The results indicate abuse is the primary factor in the decision to divorce and witnessing violence as a child is a strong predictor of becoming an abusive spouse. Policy experiments suggest men are more responsive to policies designed to increase the costs of abuse than women are to policies reducing the cost of leaving violent marriages and policies designed to reduce the inter-generational effects of domestic violence may be promising strategies for preventing abuse.

Suggested Citation

  • Audra J. Bowlus & Shannon N. Seitz, 2002. "Domestic Violence, Employment and Divorce," Working Papers 1007, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:qed:wpaper:1007

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    Cited by:

    1. David Card & Gordon B. Dahl, 2011. "Family Violence and Football: The Effect of Unexpected Emotional Cues on Violent Behavior," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(1), pages 103-143.
    2. Juan D. Barón§, 2010. "La violencia de pareja en Colombia y sus regiones," Documentos de trabajo sobre Economía Regional y Urbana 128, Banco de la Republica de Colombia.
    3. Leora Friedberg & Steven Stern, 2014. "Marriage, Divorce, And Asymmetric Information," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 55, pages 1155-1199, November.
    4. Robert A. Pollak, 2004. "An intergenerational model of domestic violence," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 17(2), pages 311-329, June.
    5. Dirk Bethmann & Robert Rudolf, 2015. "Happily ever after? Intrahousehold bargaining and the distribution of utility within marriage," Discussion Paper Series 1503, Institute of Economic Research, Korea University.
    6. Daniel Schneider & Kristen Harknett & Sara McLanahan, 2016. "Intimate Partner Violence in the Great Recession," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 53(2), pages 471-505, April.
    7. Allen, W. David, 2009. "Interview effects in the reporting of domestic violence," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 288-300, March.
    8. Tertilt Michèle & Berg Gerard J. van den, 2015. "The Association Between Own Unemployment and Violence Victimization Among Female Youths," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 235(4-5), pages 499-513, August.
    9. Angelucci, Manuela, 2007. "Love on the Rocks: Alcohol Abuse and Domestic Violence in Rural Mexico," IZA Discussion Papers 2706, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    10. Paul, Sohini, 2014. "Women labour force participation and domestic violence: Evidence from India," MPRA Paper 55311, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. César Alonso-Borrego & Raquel Carrasco, 2017. "Employment and the risk of domestic violence: does the breadwinner’s gender matter?," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 49(50), pages 5074-5091, October.
    12. Gina Cárdenas Varón & José Luis Polo Otero, 2014. "Ciclo intergeneracional de la violencia doméstica contra la mujer: Análisis para las regiones de Colombia," REVISTA DE ECONOMÍA DEL CARIBE 014767, UNIVERSIDAD DEL NORTE.
    13. Fedor Iskhakov & John Rust & Bertel Schjerning, 2013. "The Dynamics of Bertrand Price Competition with Cost-Reducing Investments," Discussion Papers 13-05, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
    14. Gerard van den Berg & Michele Tertilt, 2012. "Domestic Violence over the Business Cycle," 2012 Meeting Papers 1171, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    15. Oleksandr Zhylyevskyy, 2012. "Spousal Conflict and Divorce," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(4), pages 915-962.
    16. Olukorede Abiona & Martin Foureaux Koppensteiner, 2016. "The Impact of Household Shocks on Domestic Violence: Evidence from Tanzania," Discussion Papers in Economics 16/14, Department of Economics, University of Leicester.
    17. Gustavo J. Bobonis & Melissa González-Brenes & Roberto Castro, 2013. "Public Transfers and Domestic Violence: The Roles of Private Information and Spousal Control," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 179-205, February.
    18. Angelucci Manuela, 2008. "Love on the Rocks: Domestic Violence and Alcohol Abuse in Rural Mexico," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 8(1), pages 1-43, October.
    19. Valentina Calderón & Margarita Gáfaro & Ana María Ibáñez, 2011. "Forced Migration, Female Labor Force Participation, and Intra-household Bargaining: Does Conflict EmpowerWomen?," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 008912, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.
    20. Anna Aizer, 2007. "Wages, Violence and Health in the Household," NBER Working Papers 13494, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    21. Daniel Schneider, & Sara McLanahan & Kristen Harknett, 2014. "Intimate Partner Violence In The Great Recession," Working Papers wp14-04-ff, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Research on Child Wellbeing..
    22. Þevket Alper Koç & Hakký Cenk Erkin, 2012. "On Intergenerational Transmission of Domestic Violence: Pollak Revisited," Bogazici Journal, Review of Social, Economic and Administrative Studies, Bogazici University, Department of Economics, vol. 26(1), pages 45-65.
    23. Larry Taylor, 2011. "The transition to mid-life divorce," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 251-271, June.

    More about this item


    Domestic Violence; Abuse; Employment; Marriage; Divorce;

    JEL classification:

    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
    • J20 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - General
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure


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