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Women's access to labor market opportunities, control of household resources, and domestic violence

Publisher: The World Bank Development Research Group Human Development and Public Services Team
Author: Rachel Heath
Type: Report
Date: Jul-2012
Keywords: Gender and Health; Adolescent Health; Population Policies; Gender and Law; Gender and Development
Location in CRTDA:
While there are many positive societal implications of increased female labor force opportunities, some theoretical models and empirical evidence suggest that working can increase a woman's risk of suffering domestic violence. Using a dataset collected in peri-urban Dhaka, this analysis documents a positive correlation between work and domestic violence. This correlation is only present among women with less education or who were younger at first marriage. These results are consistent with a theoretical model in which a woman with low bargaining power can face increased risk of domestic violence upon entering the labor force as a husband seeks to counteract her increased bargaining power. By contrast, husbands of women who have higher baseline bargaining power cannot resort to domestic violence since their wives have the ability to leave violent marriages. These findings are inconsistent with the models of assortative matching in the marriage market, expressive violence, work in response to economic shocks, or underreporting of domestic violence. The results on age at marriage are also inconsistent with the implications of a reverse causality model in which women enter the labor force to escape violent situations at home, although the results on education are consistent with that story.

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