Unemployment and Domestic Violence: Theory and Evidence

Dan Anderberg, Helmut Rainer, Jonathan Wadsworth, Tanya Wilson

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Does rising unemployment really increase domestic violence as many commentators expect? The contribution of this paper is to examine how changes in unemployment affect the incidence of domestic abuse. Theory predicts 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 labour market data from the UK's Annual Population Survey, we find strong evidence in support of the theoretical prediction.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1947-1979
Number of pages33
JournalThe Economic Journal
Issue number597
Early online date1 Oct 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016


  • domestic violence; unemployment

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