Coercive Control and the Dynamics of Abusive Relationships
with Emily Nix (USC Marshall School of Business)
Hybrid event
Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research (LISER)
Maison des Sciences Humaines
11, Porte des Sciences
L-4366 Esch-sur-Alzette / Belval
LISER Conference room (1st floor)
11:00 am
12:30 pm
For inquiries:


Policymakers and advocates are beginning to recognize that domestic abuse encompasses a range of damaging behaviors beyond just physical violence, including economic and emotional abuse. In this paper, we provide rigorous evidence on the defining role of coercive control in abusive relationships. Using unique administrative data on cohabitation and domestic violence and a matched control event study design along with a within-individual comparison of outcomes across relationships, we document three new facts. First, women who begin relationships with (eventually) physically abusive men suffer large and significant earnings and employment falls immediately upon cohabiting with the abusive partner. Second, abusive men impose economic costs on all their female partners, even those who do not report physical violence to the police. Third, abusive relationships are associated with decreases in total household income, implying an efficiency loss. To rationalize these key facts, we develop a new dynamic model where women do not perfectly observe their partner's type, and abusive men have an incentive to use coercive control in early periods to sabotage women’s outside options and their ability to exit the relationship. The dynamic model features endogenous break-up, men's coercive control and physical violence, and women's labor supply and learning about the men's underlying types. The model yields a series of empirical predictions which we validate in the data. We further harness the model predictions to revisit some classic results on domestic violence and show that the relationship between domestic violence and women's outside options is linked crucially to break-up dynamics.

Supported by the Luxembourg National Research Fund (RESCOM/2021/16537536)

Also in this category ...