Does Child Abuse Rise During a Recession?

How do economic conditions affect the incidence of child abuse?  While researchers have found that poverty and child abuse are linked, there’s been no evidence that downturns increase abuse.  A new working paper (PDF; abstract) by economists Jason M. Lindo, Jessamyn Schaller, and Benjamin Hansen “addresses this seeming contradiction.” Here’s the abstract, with a key finding in bold:

Using county-level child abuse data spanning 1996 to 2009 from the California Department of Justice, we estimate the extent to which a county’s reported abuse rate diverges from its trend when its economic conditions diverge from trend, controlling for statewide annual shocks. The results of this analysis indicate that overall measures of economic conditions are not strongly related to rates of abuse. However, focusing on overall measures of economic conditions masks strong opposing effects of economic conditions facing males and females: male layoffs increase rates of abuse whereas female layoffs reduce rates of abuse. These results are consistent with a theoretical framework that builds on family-time-use models and emphasizes differential risks of abuse associated with a child’s time spent with different caregivers.

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COMMENTS: 4


  1. Eric M. Jones says:

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    • Thalia says:

      Setting up someone who considers themselves to be naturally the primary breadwinner as the primary home maker leads to significant stress and problems, and thus abuse. It seems pretty straightforward from here.

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  2. Enter your name... says:

    I read an analysis of same-sex marriage a few years back, when assertions by a few nuts that gay men were all abusers were in the news. The writer analyzed the research data and came to the somewhat amusing conclusion that to minimize child abuse, then all households with children should contain at least one wife. Husbands were optional, but two (or more) wives would be fine from that perspective.

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  3. RZ says:

    It would seem to make sense. Assume Parent A is abusive. He/she can only abuse his/her children when with them, so when Parent A is at work, the kids are not being abused by him/her. But when Parent A loses his/her job, he/she has a lot more time at home and with the kids, which leads to more opportunities for abuse.

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