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Changes in Economic Hardship and Intimate Partner Violence: A Family Stress Framework

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While recent studies underscore how financial stress and lack of tangible assets significantly increase the odds of intimate partner violence (IPV) among couples, little is known about these effects over time. Theoretically informed by family stress theory, this study examines the influence of changing subjective reports of economic hardship over time on the risk for IPV. Specifically, we test two hypotheses: (1) change in economic hardship significantly predicts IPV; and, specifically, (2) increased economic hardship or unstable economic conditions increases the risk of IPV. Using longitudinal data from the Fragile Families and Child Well-being Study, we assess the incidence of IPV for 941 women in committed relationships. Results from our logistic regression analyses suggest that after controlling for numerous demographic factors, women who never experienced economic hardship had lower odds of experiencing IPV than those who did. Further, women who experienced high levels of economic hardship over time had the highest odds of experiencing IPV. However, the effects of changing economic hardship on IPV were attenuated once maternal depression and parenting stress were controlled. Results are discussed in terms of practice and policy implications.

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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.

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Correspondence to Jessica L. Lucero.

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Lucero, J.L., Lim, S. & Santiago, A.M. Changes in Economic Hardship and Intimate Partner Violence: A Family Stress Framework. J Fam Econ Iss 37, 395–406 (2016).

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