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The Nexus Between Economics and Family Violence: The Expected Impact of Recent Economic Declines on the Rates and Patterns of Intimate, Child and Elder Abuse

NCJ Number
Date Published
March 2010
45 pages
This study reviews the research on the extent to which one or more economic dimensions (income, employment status, or status incompatibility) are at least minimally correlated with one or more variations of family violence (intimate partner abuse, child abuse, or elder abuse).
The review first considers the findings of historians who have researched domestic conflict and violence, including several recently published historical reviews. Based on this review of historical research on links between economic factors and family violence, the authors conclude that low income levels and unemployment, as well as involuntary change in home ownership, correlate strongly with violence within the family. The authors also advise, however, that because of several identified significant methodological weaknesses in these historical studies, it is too soon to conclude that the current economic crisis will result in significantly more family violence. They recommend a focused and rigorous research program before engaging in predictions about the impact of today's economic-social climate on the rate of family violence. This should include a study of how changes in the economic conditions of a family or intimate relationships affect the dynamics of the relationship/partnership, as well as how this process interacts with change in the long-term macro-economic shifts/developments over the past several decades. If it is found that economic changes impact different criminal career parameters, then the current economic crisis, although creating an aggregate increase in violence, may well impact individual families differently. In conducting research on these issues, there are useful data available. By combining the NCS and the NCVS into a stacked database of connected series that link the six respondent interviews over 3 years, researchers can test whether the size of any association between a household's absolute economic condition or change in this condition impacts any form of family violence. 118 references

Date Published: March 1, 2010