Saturday, July 30, 2016

The rise of intimate partner violence during the Great Recession

Public Release: 6-Jun-2016
The rise of intimate partner violence during the Great Recession
Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs

Financial strain has long been one of the leading causes of family discord, but a recent study suggests that simply living through major economic recessions increases a mother's chance of suffering from domestic violence.

Researchers from Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of California, Berkeley, investigated the impact of economic distress on romantic relationships, demonstrating unexpected side effects of economic downturns.

The study, published in Demography, carefully examined whether personal economic distress and high unemployment rates would increase a mother's chances of being in a violent or controlling relationship. While mothers across the board experienced a rise in intimate partner violence during the Great Recession of 2007 through 2009, those who experienced personal financial loss were even more likely to be subjected to intimate partner violence.


The investigators also controlled for such factors as race, ethnicity, education, nativity, marital status and who all lived in the home.

Notably, the male partner does not need to lose his job or experience personal material hardship to turn to intimate partner violence, McLanahan and her co-authors found in the recent study. Rather the trigger seems to be the stress of living in a fragile economy where he might experience job loss or economic hardship at any moment, even if he hasn't already.

"Most surprising, rapid increases in unemployment rates - 50 percent or more in the past year - led to increases in men's controlling behavior, but not physical violence, among couples who did not directly experience unemployment or material hardship themselves, suggesting the fear of hard times was important for these couples," McLanahan said. "This pattern exemplifies the psychological dynamic that a loss of control in one domain, like the economy, leads men to assert greater control in another domain, in this case their intimate relationships."


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