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Does Income Inequality Increase Violence Against Women? An Instrumental Variable Approach

Abstract

Violence against women is a violation of basic human rights and a global health problem. Although the literature is rich in studies on the determinants of violence against women, little attention has been given to the potential impact of income inequality on violence against women. The present paper aims to investigate the impact of the state income inequality on violence against women in India, a country where violence against women one of the highest in the world. We use data on a nationally representative sample of 69,704 women from the third National Family Health Survey for India, conducted in 2005–2006. We argue that income inequality increases the risk of experiencing violence by eroding social capital in the living community. To estimate the causal impact of economic inequality on violence against women and avoid endogeneity, we rely on an instrumental variable approach. As the first step, we use simple standard regression models and find that state income inequality increases intimate partner violence as well as violence by anyone other than her partner. When tackling the endogeneity issue, our findings suggest that income inequality increases the risk of violence by anyone other than the partner, but it did not increase the risk of spousal violence. The study’s findings are robust to different regression techniques.

Résumé

La violence à l’encontre des femmes représente une violence à l’encontre des droits humains et constitue un problème d’envergure mondiale. Bien que de nombreuses études aient analysé les déterminants de la violence à l’encontre des femmes, peu de travaux ont analysé la corrélation entre les impacts des inégalités sociales sur la situation des femmes. Le présent papier essaie d’étudier les impacts des inégalités des revenus sur la situation des femmes en Inde ou le taux de violences à l’encontre des femmes est un des plus élevé au monde. Dans cette étude nous exploitons une base de données nationale représentative avec un échantillon de 69,704 femmes, troisième enquête ‘National Family Health Survey for India’ de 2005–2006. Nous expliquons l’évolution des risques de violences par la variation du niveau du capital social. Et, afin d’estimer l’effet causalité entre inégalité économique et violences envers les femmes et mettre en évidence ainsi l’endogénèite nous adoptons une approche de variable instrumentale. La première étape consiste à modéliser un model avec une régression standard simple et à en déduire que les inégalités des revenus accroissent les violences des partenaires mais aussi des non partenaires. Pour résoudre les problèmes d’endogéniète nos résultats suggèrent que les inégalités des revenus accroissent les risques de violence par les non partenaires mais cela n’augmente pas le risque de violence du partenaire. Cette étude est robuste par rapport aux différentes techniques de régressions.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    NFHS-4 was not available when this paper being written. However, the prevalence of IPV remains as high as 28% and the concentration of wealth is also evident in NFHS-4. Therefore, the findings of the study remain important and relevant to policy makers.

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Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank the two anonymous referees and the handling Editor of this journal for the invaluable comments that have substantially improved the manuscript. We would like to deeply thank Waleed Gharbi and Ichiro Kawachi for their invaluable suggestions and help.

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Correspondence to Ahmed Shoukry Rashad.

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Shoukry Rashad, A., Fathy Sharaf, M. & Mansour, E.H. Does Income Inequality Increase Violence Against Women? An Instrumental Variable Approach. Eur J Dev Res 31, 779–808 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41287-018-0187-7

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Keywords

  • Income inequality
  • Instrumental variable
  • Violence against women
  • India