Panel Paper: Economic Growth, Intimate Partner Violence and Attitudes Towards Wife-Beating

Thursday, November 8, 2018
8216 - Lobby Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

H. Elizabeth Peters, Breno Braga, Tyler Woods, Adaeze Okoli and Nan Marie Astone, Urban Institute

In this paper, we build on previous literature on economic growth and women’s empowerment to explore the relationship between GDP growth and two measures of violence towards women: whether a woman has ever experienced violence from her husband or partner and her attitudes towards wife-beating.

Overall, our results suggest that attitudes towards violence do not respond directly to changes in national income, but do change indirectly over time with changes in characteristics of the population that are associated with economic development. The actual experience of intimate partner violence(IPV), however, appears to be more resistant to change, either directly through changes in national income or indirectly through changes in the characteristics of the population associated with economic growth.

Moreover, because of the positive correlation between women’s labor force participation and IPV, economic growth may have a built-in backlash — as women increase their labor force participation, men may be more likely to use violence to assert their power and control. Our results do show a link between attitudes towards wife-beating and experiencing IPV. This suggests that effective policy to reduce IPV may need address (and change) attitudes directly.