Economic Abuse: A Theory of Intrahousehold Sabotage

Dan Anderberg, Helmut Rainer

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While research on domestic abuse in economics has to date almost exclusively focused on physical violence, research in other disciplines has documented that abusive males frequently also use sabotage tactics to interfere with the employability and job performance of the victim. This paper puts forward a theoretical framework that rationalizes why men may use labor market sabotage ``instrumentally'' to thwart their partners' training or career efforts. The model predicts a non-monotonic relationship between the gender wage gap and intrahoushold sabotage committed by abusive males. We explore the implications of this result in the context of various welfare policies. There are no one-size-fit-all solutions when it comes to reducing the incidence of economic abuse. Instead, specific measures have to be targeted at different types of households.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)282-295
JournalJournal of Public Economics
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2012


  • Intrahousehold Sabotage
  • non-cooperative family decision-making
  • Welfare Policy

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