Journal of Family and Economic Issues

, Volume 39, Issue 2, pp 310–322 | Cite as

The Impacts of Education, Adverse Childhood Experience, and Nativity on Intimate Partner Violence

  • Alexander Henke
  • Lin-chi HsuEmail author
Original Paper


This paper tested an implication of household bargaining theory, that women with higher human capital experience less intimate partner violence. Relying on a single source of income imposes a barrier to leaving an abusive relationship. Women with higher human capital are better equipped to leave a relationship, which allows them to tolerate less violence in a relationship. Using a California health survey dataset, we found that more educated women were less likely to experience spousal violence. We used the detailed nature of the data to control for commonly omitted variables such as adverse childhood experiences. In addition, we found that the effect of education on intimate partner violence varied by nativity (US-born vs. foreign-born) and was smaller for foreign-born women. Drawing from the literature on the returns to education by race, we hypothesized that foreign-born women have a lower return on human capital, which in turn moderated the effect of education on household bargaining power.


Intimate partner violence Nativity Returns to education Adverse childhood experience 

JEL Classification

J12 J15 



Data for these analyses were provided by the California Women’s Health Survey (CWHS) Group. The CWHS is coordinated by the California Department of Public Health in collaboration with the California Department of Mental Health, the California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs, California Medical Review, Inc., the California Department of Social Services, the California Office of Women’s Health, and the Survey Research Group of the Public Health Institute. Questionnaire development and funding for the survey were provided by collaborating programs. Analyses, findings, and conclusions described in this report are not necessarily endorsed by the CWHS Group.


This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Alexander Henke declares that he has no conflict of interest. Lin-chi Hsu declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsHoward UniversityWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.WashingtonUSA

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