Journal of Quantitative Criminology

, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 207–235 | Cite as

Neighborhood Disadvantage, Individual Economic Distress and Violence Against Women in Intimate Relationships

  • Michael L. Benson
  • Greer L. Fox
  • Alfred DeMaris
  • Judy Van Wyk


A continuing debate in sociological criminology involves the association of crime with economic disadvantage at both aggregate and individual levels of analysis. At the aggregate level, data from law enforcement sources suggest that rates of intimate violence are higher in disadvantaged neighborhoods. Disadvantaged neighborhoods may experience higher rates of intimate violence for compositional or contextual reasons, or rates may only appear to be higher because of differential reporting. Similarly, at the individual level, intimate violence appears more common among couples that are economically distressed, but whether economic distress triggers intimate violence is not certain. Using data from waves 1 and 2 of the National Survey of Families and Households and from the 1990 U.S. Census, we investigate the effects of neighborhood economic disadvantage and individual economic distress on intimate violence against women. Controlling for violence at time 1 and other individual level characteristics, we find that neighborhood economic disadvantage, neighborhood residential instability, male employment instability, and subjective financial strain influence the likelihood of violence at time 2. The relationship between neighborhood disadvantage and intimate violence appears to reflect both compositional and contextual effects.

intimate violence neighborhood disadvantage economic distress 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael L. Benson
    • 1
  • Greer L. Fox
    • 2
  • Alfred DeMaris
    • 3
  • Judy Van Wyk
    • 4
  1. 1.Division of Criminal JusticeUniversity of CincinnatiCincinnati
  2. 2.Department of Child and Family StudiesUniversity of TennesseeKnoxville
  3. 3.Department of SociologyBowling Green State UniversityBowling Green
  4. 4.Department of Sociology and AnthropologyUniversity of Rhode IslandKingston

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