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Economic Distress and Intimate Violence: Testing Family Stress and Resources Theories

NCJ Number
Journal of Marriage and the Family Volume: 64 Issue: 3 Dated: August 2002 Pages: 793-807
Date Published
August 2002
15 pages

This study examined the impact of household economic indicators on the risk of violence against women by their partners in an intimate relationship.


The analysis focused on the relative effectiveness of employment-related and income-related variables in increasing the probability for male-to-female violence in intimate relationships. Findings regarding the employment variables did not support either the family stress or the relative resources model. Neither the employment status of the man or the woman, either singly or jointly, was directly linked to the probability of intimate partner violence (IPV) directed against the woman; however, a partner's desires regarding the work hours of the other partner were related to the frequency of partners' arguments about money. All of the variables related to financial status were clearly linked to an increased likelihood of the male partner committing violence against the female partner. Specifically, an increase in women's earnings relative to her partner's over time was the most powerful income-related variable linked to the male partner's violence against the woman. The study's data set was developed from the 1987 and 1994 waves of the National Survey of Families and Households (NSFH) in combination with census tract data from the 1990 U.S. census. The study examined the objective and subjective dimensions of employment and household financial status for men and women. Variables pertained to each partner's current employment status, his/her unemployment over time, the kind of work, and a partner's feelings about his/her job. Earnings profiles were also examined, including the relative contribution of each partner to the family's finances, income sufficiency, debt load, and subjective assessment of family financial well-being. 5 tables and 36 references

Date Published: August 1, 2002