Violently Unequal: Female Empowerment and Domestic Violence

Forskningsoutput: Working paper


This paper studies the effect of increased female empowerment on domestic violence. I use individual level data from high-quality Swedish administrative registers on women's relative earnings and hospital visits relating to assault. With this third-party reported violence measure, I overcome the issue of selective under-reporting of violence. I first show that the raw relationship between female empowerment and domestic violence is U-shaped, and that the sign of the association differs depending on which spouse is the main breadwinner of the household. However, the U-shape does not depict a causal effect, as it does not account for selective marriage matches or endogenous earnings. To overcome the concerns of endogeneity, I derive a measure of wives' potential earnings, caused by local changes in gender-specific labour demand. I show that the causal effect of increasing wives' potential earnings on domestic violence is positive and substantial. A positive effect is consistent with a male backlash story, which, together with the noted U-shaped association that depends on breadwinner status, indicates that traditional gender norms may play an important role in determining the relationship between female empowerment and domestic violence, even in presumably gender-equal Sweden.


Enheter & grupper

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ) – OBLIGATORISK

  • Nationalekonomi


Antal sidor38
StatusPublished - 2019


NamnWorking Papers
FörlagLund University, Department of Economics