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Rainfall and intimate partner violence

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Abstract

This paper explores the extent to which rainfall variability influences women’s exposure to intimate partner violence in 37 developing countries between 2000 and 2018. Exploiting the variation across residential areas in annual rainfall, we detect a negative association between rainfall deviations from typical levels and women’s experience of various aspects of intimate partner violence. Specifically, women tend to suffer less physical violence (in both less severe and more severe forms) and are less likely to experience domestic abuse in psychological as well as sexual manners when there is more rainfall in their residential area relative to the long-run local average rainfall. In contrast, we present evidence that the lack of rainfall (defined as rainfall below the historical norm) raises the likelihood of all four types of intimate partner violence. The mechanism analysis provides suggestive evidence that the linkage between rainfall and intimate partner violence could be mediated through household income. Our study highlights the sensitivity of women’s well-being to weather shocks and therefore underlines the importance of policy interventions that seek to secure household incomes and protect the welfare of women during adverse weather events.

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Data availability

The data underlying this research can be obtained from the DHS website: https://dhsprogram.com/data/ and CRUTS website: https://crudata.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/hrg/

Notes

  1. 1% of the clusters in rural regions are randomly chosen to be displaced further from 0 to 10 km after being displaced by 5 km because rural areas tend to be sparsely inhabited compared to urban ones. We acknowledge that such displacement for women in the 1% rural clusters here might make the rainfall measure less accurate. However, as long as displacement is random and the mismeasurement issue is not jointly correlated with intimate partner violence and our main explanatory variable of rainfall (detail in the next section), our estimates are unlikely to be biased.

  2. Our sample spans from 1990 to 2018. DHS Data collection rounds are not consistent across countries, i.e., surveys are likely to be collected at different times in different countries. We just use all the rounds with the domestic violence module and include women in the sample as described here and in Fig. 1. The time difference in survey is unlikely to affect our results since we employ year fixed effects in our model, which can account for heterogeneity across time periods affecting all countries.

  3. Countries in our sample primarily come from sub-Saharan Africa, East and North Africa where rainfed agriculture accounts for more than 95%, 75%, and 60% of their farmed land (Wani et al., 2009). Therefore, agriculture and income may be important channels.

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Funding

This research is funded by University of Economics and Law, Vietnam National University Ho Chi Minh City / VNU-HCM. This research is funded by International School, Vietnam National University, Hanoi, Vietnam.

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KL: conceptualization, methodology, formal analysis and investigation, writing - original draft preparation, resources. MN: conceptualization, methodology, formal analysis and investigation, writing - original draft preparation, writing - review and editing, resources.

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Correspondence to My Nguyen.

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Appendix

Appendix

Table 4 List of countries
Table 5 Deficient rainfall and intimate partner violence
Table 6 Nonlinear impacts of rainfall variability
Table 7 Impacts of rainfall variability on physical violence
Table 8 Impacts of rainfall variability on emotional and sexual abuse

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Le, K., Nguyen, M. Rainfall and intimate partner violence. Popul Environ 46, 19 (2024). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11111-024-00460-9

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