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CEP discussion paper

Unemployment and Domestic Violence: Theory and Evidence


Is unemployment the overwhelming determinant of domestic violence that many commentators expect it to be? The contribution of this paper is to examine, theoretically and empirically, how changes in unemployment affect the incidence of domestic abuse. The key theoretical prediction is that male and female unemployment have opposite-signed effects on domestic abuse: an increase in male unemployment decreases the incidence of intimate partner violence, while an increase in female unemployment increases domestic abuse. Combining data on intimate partner violence from the British Crime Survey with locally disaggregated labor market data from the UK’s Annual Population Survey, we find strong evidence in support of the theoretical prediction.


Dan Anderberg, Helmut Rainer, Jonathan Wadsworth and Tanya Wilson

25 July 2013     Paper Number CEPDP1230

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This CEP discussion paper is published under the centre's Community Wellbeing programme.