Women's Work, Control of Household Resources, and Domestic Violence

Rachel Heath, University of Washington and the World Bank

While there are many positive societal implications of increased female labor force opportunities, some theoretical model and empirical evidence suggest that working can increases a woman's risk of suffering domestic violence. Using a dataset I collected in peri-urban Dhaka, I find a positive correlation between work and domestic violence, but which is only present among women with less education or a younger age at first marriage. These results are consistent with a theoretical model in which a woman with low bargaining power can face increased risk of domestic violence upon entering the labor force as a husband seeks to counteract her increased bargaining power. By contrast, husbands of women who have higher baseline bargaining power cannot resort to domestic violence since their wives have the ability to leave violent marriages.

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Presented in Session 110: Domestic Violence: Causes and Consequences