International Journal of Public Health

, Volume 61, Issue 8, pp 971–980 | Cite as

How do area-level socioeconomic status and gender norms affect partner violence against women? Evidence from Tanzania

  • Seema VyasEmail author
  • Lori Heise
Original Article



To explore how area-level socioeconomic status and gender-related norms influence partner violence against women in Tanzania.


We analysed data from the 2010 Tanzania Demographic and Health Survey and used multilevel logistic regression to estimate individual and community-level effects on women’s risk of current partner violence.


Prevalence of current partner violence was 36.1 %; however, variation in prevalence exists across communities. Twenty-nine percent of the variation in the logodds of partner violence is due to community-level influences. When adjusting for individual-level characteristics, this variation falls to 10 % and falls further to 8 % when adjusting for additional community-level factors. Higher levels of women’s acceptance towards wife beating, male unemployment, and years of schooling among men were associated with higher risk of partner violence; however, higher levels of women in paid work were associated with lower risk.


Area-level poverty and inequitable gender norms were associated with higher risk of partner violence. Empowerment strategies along with addressing social attitudes are likely to achieve reductions in rates of partner violence against women in Tanzania and in other similar low-income country settings.


Partner violence against women Tanzania Multilevel model Poverty Gender norms 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest. The authors received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

Ethical approval

This study analyses secondary data gathered as part of the DHS programme. The DHS ethical review states “Procedures and questionnaires for standard DHS surveys have been reviewed and approved by the ICF International Institutional Review Board (IRB). Additionally, country-specific DHS survey protocols are reviewed by the ICF IRB and typically by an IRB in the host country. The ICF International IRB ensures that the survey complies with the US Department of Health and Human Services regulations for the protection of human subjects (45 CFR 46), while the host country IRB ensures that the survey complies with laws and norms of the nation.”

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the original study.


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Copyright information

© Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Kilimanjaro Christian Medical University CollegeMoshiTanzania
  2. 2.London School of Hygiene and Tropical MedicineLondonUK

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