Economic Considerations of Intimate Partner Violence

Living reference work entry


An economic perspective adds crucial insight into research on intimate partner violence (IPV) across theoretical, practical, and methodological dimensions. Three key economic considerations for IPV scholars are presented in this chapter, including: household bargaining models, economic characteristics and their contested roles as protective or risk factors, and the economic costs and consequences of IPV. Economic models of household bargaining have been adapted to incorporate IPV and help introduce the economic approach to IPV research. This chapter provides a brief overview of such models, their assumptions and resulting predictions regarding IPV, and finally, some of their limitations. Predictions from such models sparked empirical research on the role of economic characteristics in mitigating the risk for violence. Despite theoretical predictions, economic empowerment is not universally protective. An overview of results from research on two forms of economic empowerment – employment and asset ownership – is included as is discussion on the role social norms may play in mediating the protective effects of economic empowerment. Finally, this chapter includes an outline of the economic costs and consequences of IPV. Direct, indirect, and intangible costs resulting from IPV are detailed, as well as the various categories into which such costs fall, including costs to the justice system and healthcare system. Methodologies for estimating indirect costs, in particular, are explained including the human capital approach and willingness-to-pay method. Many of these costs continue past the period of abuse, accruing at both the macroeconomic level, affecting overall economic growth, and at the individual level, by interrupting educational and employment trajectories.


Economics IPV Bargaining models Economic empowerment Employment Asset ownership Cost-identification Human capital approach Willingness-to-pay Macroeconomic burden 


  1. Access Economics. (2004). The cost of domestic violence to the Australian economy. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.Google Scholar
  2. Agarwal, B. (1997). “Bargaining” and gender relations: Within and beyond the household. Feminist Economics, 3(1), 1–51.Google Scholar
  3. Bachman, R., & Saltzman, L. E. (1995). Violence against women: Estimates from the redesigned Survey (NCJ-154348). Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report. U.S. Department of Justice.Google Scholar
  4. Banyard, V. L., & Cross, C. (2008). Consequences of teen dating violence. Violence Against Women, 14(9), 998–1013.Google Scholar
  5. Becker, G. (1965). A theory of the allocation of time. The Economic Journal, 75(299), 493–517.Google Scholar
  6. Becker, G. S. (1981). A treatise on the family. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Benería, L., Berik, G., & Floro, M. (2015). Gender, development, and globalization: Economics as if all people mattered (2nd ed.). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  8. Benson, M. L., Fox, G. L., DeMaris, A., & Van Wyk, J. (2003). Neighborhood disadvantage, individual economic distress and violence against women in intimate relationships. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 19(3), 207–235.Google Scholar
  9. Bhattacharya, H. (2015). Spousal violence and women’s employment in India. Feminist Economics, 21(2), 30–52.Google Scholar
  10. Bhattacharyya, M., Bedi, A. S., & Chhachhi, A. (2011). Marital violence and women’s employment and property status: Evidence from north Indian villages. World Development, 39(9), 1676–1689.Google Scholar
  11. Bonomi, A. E., Trabert, B., Anderson, M. L., Kernic, M. A., & Holt, V. L. (2014). Intimate partner violence and neighborhood income: A longitudinal analysis. Violence Against Women, 20(1), 42–58.Google Scholar
  12. Bueno, C. C., & Henderson, E. A. (2017). Bargaining or backlash? Evidence on intimate partner violence from the Dominican Republic. Feminist Economics, 23(4), 90–116.Google Scholar
  13. Cunradi, C. B., Caetano, R., & Schafer, J. (2002). Socioeconomic predictors of intimate partner violence among white, black, and Hispanic couples in the United States. Journal of Family Violence, 17(4), 377–389.Google Scholar
  14. Day, T., McKenna, K., & Bowlus, A. (2005). The economic costs of ciolence against women: An evaluation of the literature. Expert brief compiled in preparation for the secretary-general’s in-depth study on all forms of violence against women, United Nations. Retrieved from
  15. Diette, T. M., Goldsmith, A. H., Hamilton, D., & Darity, W. A., Jr. (2017). Child abuse, sexual assault, community violence and high school graduation. Review of Behavioral Economics, 4(3), 215–240.Google Scholar
  16. Dugan, L., Nagin, D. S., & Rosenfeld, R. (1999). Explaining the decline in intimate partner homicide: The effects of changing domesticity, women’s status, and domestic violence resources. Homicide Studies, 3(3), 187–214.Google Scholar
  17. Duvvury, N., Nguyen, M., & Carney, P. (2012). Estimating the cost of domestic violence against women in Vietnam. Hanoi: UN Women.Google Scholar
  18. Duvvury, N., Callan, A., Carney, P., & Raghavendra, S. (2013). Intimate partner violence: Economic costs and implications for growth and development. Women’s voice, agency and participation research series working paper 82532, World Bank.Google Scholar
  19. Eisenberg, J. M. (1989). Clinical economics: A guide to the economic analysis of clinical practices. JAMA, 262(20), 2879–2886.Google Scholar
  20. Farmer, A., & Tiefenthaler, J. (1997). An economic analysis of domestic violence. Review of Social Economy, 55(3), 337–358.Google Scholar
  21. Fishman, P. A., Bonomi, A. E., Anderson, M. L., Reid, R. J., & Rivara, F. P. (2010). Changes in health care costs over time following the cessation of intimate partner violence. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 25(9), 920–925.Google Scholar
  22. Halpern, C. T., Oslak, S. G., Young, M. L., Martin, S. L., & Kupper, L. L. (2001). Partner violence among adolescents in opposite-sex romantic relationships: Findings from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. American Journal of Public Health, 91(10), 1679–1685.Google Scholar
  23. Jewkes, R. (2002). Intimate partner violence: Causes and prevention. The Lancet, 359, 1423–1429.Google Scholar
  24. Kabeer, N. (1999). Resources, agency, achievements: Reflections on the measurement of women’s empowerment. Development and Change, 30, 435–464.Google Scholar
  25. Katz, E. (1997). The intra-household economics of voice and exit. Feminist Economics, 3(3), 25–46.Google Scholar
  26. Kishor, S., & Johnson, K. (2004). Profiling violence: A multi-country study (pp. 53–63). Calverton: Measures DHS, ORC Marco.Google Scholar
  27. Krebs, C., Lindquist, C. H., Warner, T. D., Fisher, B. S., & Martin, S. L. (2007). The Campus Sexual Assualt (CSA) Study. Washington, DC. Retrieved from
  28. LeBlanc, M. M., Barling, J., & Turner, N. (2014). Intimate partner aggression and women’s work outcomes. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 19(4), 399–412.Google Scholar
  29. Lenze, J., & Klasen, S. (2017). Does women’s labor force participation reduce domestic violence? Evidence from Jordan. Feminist Economics, 23(1), 1–29.Google Scholar
  30. Lundberg, S., & Pollak, R. A. (1993). Separate spheres bargaining and the marriage market. Journal of Political Economy, 101(6), 988–1010.Google Scholar
  31. Macmillan, R., & Gartner, R. (1999). When she brings home the bacon: Labor-force participation and the risk of spousal violence against women. Journal of Marriage and Family, 61(4), 947–958.Google Scholar
  32. Manser, M., & Brown, M. (1980). Marriage and household decision-making: A bargaining analysis. International Economic Review, 21(1), 31–44.Google Scholar
  33. McElroy, M. B., & Horney, M. J. (1981). Nash-bargained household decisions: Toward a generalization of the theory of demand. International Economic Review, 22(2), 333–349.Google Scholar
  34. Nash, J. (1950). The bargaining problem. Econometrica, 18(2), 155–162.Google Scholar
  35. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. (2003). Costs of intimate partner violence against women in the United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from
  36. Oduro, A. D., Deere, C. D., & Catanzarite, Z. B. (2015). Women’s wealth and intimate partner violence: Insights from Ecuador and Ghana. Feminist Economics, 21(2), 1–29.Google Scholar
  37. Panda, P., & Agarwal, B. (2005). Marital violence, human development and women’s property status in India. World Development, 33(5), 823–850.Google Scholar
  38. Peterman, A., Pereira, A., Bleck, J., Palermo, T. M., & Yount, K. M. (2017). Women’s individual asset ownership and experience of intimate partner violence: Evidence from 28 international surveys. American Journal of Public Health, 107(5), 747–755.Google Scholar
  39. Peterson, C., Liu, Y., Kresnow, M., Florence, C., Merrick, M. T., DeGue, S., & Lokey, C. N. (2018a). Short-term lost productivity per victim: Intimate partner violence, sexual violence, or stalking. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 55(1), 106–110.Google Scholar
  40. Peterson, C., Kearns, M. C., McIntosh, W. L., Estefan, L. F., Nicolaidis, C., McCollister, K. E., Gordon, A., & Florence, C. (2018b). Lifetime economic burden of intimate partner violence among U.S. adults. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 55(4), 433–444.Google Scholar
  41. Pollak, R. A. (2005). Bargaining power in marriage: Earnings, wage rates and household production. Cambridge, MA: NBER Working Paper Series.Google Scholar
  42. Raghavendra, S., Duvvury, N., & Ashe, S. (2017). The macroeconomic loss due to violence against women: The case of Vietnam. Feminist Economics, 23(4), 62–89.Google Scholar
  43. Rees, D. I., & Sabia, J. J. (2013). Forced intercourse, mental health, and human capital. Southern Economic Journal, 80(2), 324–344.Google Scholar
  44. Sabina, C. (2013). Individual and national level associations between economic deprivation and partner violence among college students in 31 national settings. Aggressive Behavior, 39(4), 247–256.Google Scholar
  45. Saltzman, L. E., Johnson, C. H., Gilbert, B. C., & Goodwin, M. M. (2003). Physical abuse around the time of pregnancy: An examination of prevalence and risk factors in 16 states. Maternal and Child Health Journal, 7(1), 31–43.Google Scholar
  46. Seiz, J. A. (2004). Game theory and bargaining models. In J. Peterson & M. Lewis (Eds.), The elgar companion to feminist economics. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing.Google Scholar
  47. Sen, A. (1987). Gender and cooperative conflicts (Wider working papers 18). Helsinki: Wider.Google Scholar
  48. Shobe, M. A., & Dienemann, J. (2007). Intimate partner violence in the United States: An ecological approach to prevention and treatment. Social Policy & Society, 7(2), 185–195.Google Scholar
  49. Straus, M. A., Gelles, R. J., & Steinmetz, S. K. (1980). Behind closed doors: Violence in the American family. Garden City: Anchor Books.Google Scholar
  50. Strenio, J. (2018) The economic consequences of intimate partner violence over the life cycle. Doctoral dissertation.Google Scholar
  51. Tamborini, C. R., Kim, C. H., & Sakamoto, A. (2015). Education and lifetime earnings in the United States. Demography, 52(4), 1383–1407.Google Scholar
  52. Vivolo-Kantor, A. M., Olsen, E. O. M., & Bacon, S. (2016). Associations of teen dating violence victimization with school violence and bullying among US high school students. Journal of School Health, 86(8), 620–627.Google Scholar
  53. Vyas, S. (2012). Assessing the implications of women’s economic status on intimate partner violence in Dar es Salaam and Mbeya, Tanzania. Doctoral dissertation, ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.Google Scholar
  54. Vyas, S., & Watts, C. (2009). How does economic empowerment affect women’s risk of intimate partner violence in low and middle income countries? A systematic review of published literature. Journal of International Development, 21, 577–602.Google Scholar
  55. Vyas, S., Mbwambo, J., & Heise, L. (2015). Women’s paid work and intimate partner violence: Insights from Tanzania. Feminist Economics, 21(1), 35–58.Google Scholar
  56. Walby, S. (2009). The cost of domestic violence: Up-date 2009. Retrieved from…/Cost_of_domestic_violence_update.doc
  57. Wilczak, A. (2014). The relationship between youth violence, victimization, and educational outcomes. Sociology Mind, 4(4), 328–340.Google Scholar
  58. Wilson, N. (2018). Violence against female adolescents in low- and middle-income countries: Evidence from 36 national household surveys. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, pp 1–15.Google Scholar

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Economics, Southern Oregon UniversityAshlandUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Glenna Tinney
    • 1
  • Shelly M. Wagers
    • 2
  • Jennifer Langhinrichsen-Rohling
    • 3
  1. 1.ConsultantAlexandriaUSA
  2. 2.College of Arts and Sciences - Society, Culture, and LanguageUniversity of South Florida - St. PetersburgSt. PetersburgUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of South AlabamaMobileUSA

Personalised recommendations