, Volume 53, Issue 2, pp 471–505 | Cite as

Intimate Partner Violence in the Great Recession

  • Daniel SchneiderEmail author
  • Kristen Harknett
  • Sara McLanahan


In the United States, the Great Recession was marked by severe negative shocks to labor market conditions. In this study, we combine longitudinal data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study with U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data on local area unemployment rates to examine the relationship between adverse labor market conditions and mothers’ experiences of abusive behavior between 2001 and 2010. Unemployment and economic hardship at the household level were positively related to abusive behavior. Further, rapid increases in the unemployment rate increased men’s controlling behavior toward romantic partners even after we adjust for unemployment and economic distress at the household level. We interpret these findings as demonstrating that the uncertainty and anticipatory anxiety that go along with sudden macroeconomic downturns have negative effects on relationship quality, above and beyond the effects of job loss and material hardship.


Intimate partner violence Recession Relationship quality 



The authors thank the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) through Grants R01HD36916, R01HD39135, and R01HD40421, as well as a consortium of private foundations for their support of the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study. This project was supported by the National Poverty Center using funds received from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (Grant No. U01 AE000002-03), as well as by the Russell Sage Foundation. Schneider thanks the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for financial support. Harknett thanks the Population Studies Center at the University of Pennsylvania. The authors gratefully acknowledge helpful comments from Irv Garfinkel, Ariel Kalil, Annette Lareau, Janice Madden, Steve Martin, Susan Sorenson, James Ziliak, and seminar participants at Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University, Stanford University, the Russell Sage Foundation, and UC Berkeley.


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Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel Schneider
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kristen Harknett
    • 2
  • Sara McLanahan
    • 3
  1. 1.UC Berkeley, Department of SociologyBerkeleyUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  3. 3.Center for Research on Child WellbeingPrinceton UniversityPrincetonUSA

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