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Concentrated Disadvantage, Economic Distress, and Violence Against Women in Intimate Relationships (From Violence Against Women and Family Violence: Developments in Research, Practice, and Policy, 2004, Bonnie Fisher, ed. -- See NCJ-199701)

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2004
9 pages
Michael L. Benson, Greer L. Fox
This study examined the influence of degrees of socioeconomic disadvantage on violence against women in intimate relationships.
The study involved a secondary analysis of data drawn from wave 1 (1988, n=13,007) and wave 2 (1994, n=10,005) of the National Survey of Families and Households (NSFH), as well as from the 1990 U.S. Census. The variables abstracted from the NSFH for the current analyses were grouped into three major categories: indicators of conflict and violence in the couple; indicators of the economic status of the couple; and individual-level, couple-level, and household-level sociodemographic characteristics. The control variables in the multivariate analyses were household income-to-needs ratio, number of children under age 18 in the household, age of primary respondent, race, male drinking problems, and violence in wave 1. At the bivariate level, neighborhood disadvantage was associated with the increased prevalence and severity of intimate violence against women. The rate of violence in disadvantaged neighborhoods was 8.7 percent compared with 4.3 percent in advantaged neighborhoods. Similarly, the rate of serious violence, defined as repeated violence or violence with injury, was more than twice as high in disadvantaged compared with advantaged neighborhoods (5.8 compared with 2.4 percent). The two indicators of economic distress related to the risk of intimate violence against women were the number of periods of increased male unemployment and subjective feelings of financial strain. The effects of concentrated disadvantage and economic distress remained significant even after all the control variables were included in the model. At both the aggregate and the individual levels, socioeconomic disadvantage increased women's risk of intimate violence. The findings thus confirm the importance of both neighborhood socioeconomic disadvantage and individual-level economic distress for the problem of violence against women. Implications are drawn for researchers and for practitioners. 23 references
Date Created: December 17, 2008