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Is the ‘Nordic Paradox’ an illusion? Measuring intimate partner violence against women in Europe

Abstract

Objectives

Recent studies suggest that intimate partner violence (IPV) against women in Europe is highest among some of the most gender egalitarian countries in the world, like Sweden, Finland and Denmark. This paper aims at disentangling the so-called Nordic Paradox.

Methods

We have decomposed traditional IPV indicators into a ‘previous partner’ and ‘current partner’ components and presented new IPV indicators that are sensitive to the frequency of victimization. The new indicators are based on aggregated data from Agency for Fundamental Rights Survey on violence against women for the 28 EU Member States.

Results

The country rankings in terms of IPV levels change substantially when overall prevalence measures are substituted by their ‘previous partner’ and ‘current partner’ components and, especially, when considering the frequency of victimization. When comparing the traditional IPV prevalence ranking with the current partner violence repetition-sensitive indicator ranking, the Nordic countries fall several positions.

Conclusions

Our findings suggest that the prevalence of IPV tends to be higher in more gender egalitarian countries because union formation and dissolution occur more often, but not because men are necessarily more violent against their partners.

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Fig. 1

Source: Authors’ calculations based on the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights’ survey on Violence Against Women Survey dataset, 2012

Fig. 2

Source: Authors’ calculations based on the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights’ survey on Violence Against Women Survey dataset, 2012

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Funding

The study was supported with funding provided by the European Research Council (ERC-2014-StG-637768, EQUALIZE project), the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities ‘Ramón y Cajal’ Research Grant Program (RYC-2013-14196) and its National R&D&I Plan GLOBFAM (RTI2018-096730-B-I00).

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Correspondence to Iñaki Permanyer.

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Permanyer, I., Gomez-Casillas, A. Is the ‘Nordic Paradox’ an illusion? Measuring intimate partner violence against women in Europe. Int J Public Health 65, 1169–1179 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00038-020-01457-5

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00038-020-01457-5

Keywords

  • Gender-based violence
  • Violence against women
  • Intimate partner violence
  • European Union
  • ‘Nordic Paradox’