Effects of COVID-19 Shutdowns on Domestic Violence in US Cities

47 Pages Posted: 11 Oct 2021 Last revised: 18 Jan 2022

See all articles by Amalia R. Miller

Amalia R. Miller

University of Virginia - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Carmit Segal

University of Zurich - Department of Economics

Melissa Spencer

University of Richmond - Department of Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: January 14, 2022

Abstract

We empirically investigate the impact of COVID-19 shutdowns on domestic violence using incident-level data on both domestic-related calls for service and crime reports of domestic violence assaults from the 18 major US police departments for which both types of records are available. Although we confirm prior reports of an increase in domestic calls for service at the start of the pandemic, we find that the increase preceded mandatory shutdowns, and there was an incremental decline following the government imposition of restrictions. We also find no evidence that domestic violence crimes increased. Rather, police reports of domestic violence assaults declined significantly during the initial shutdown period. There was no significant change in intimate partner homicides during shutdown months and victimization survey reports of intimate partner violence were lower. Our results fail to support claims that shutdowns increased domestic violence and suggest caution before drawing inference or basing policy solely on data from calls to police.

Keywords: Domestic violence, COVID-19 pandemic, crime reporting, police data

JEL Classification: I18, J12, J16, K14, K42, R28

Suggested Citation

Miller, Amalia R. and Segal, Carmit and Spencer, Melissa, Effects of COVID-19 Shutdowns on Domestic Violence in US Cities (January 14, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3938970 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3938970

Amalia R. Miller (Contact Author)

University of Virginia - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 400182
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4182
United States

HOME PAGE: http://people.virginia.edu/~am5by/

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Carmit Segal

University of Zurich - Department of Economics ( email )

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Switzerland

HOME PAGE: http://sites.google.com/site/carmitsegal/

Melissa Spencer

University of Richmond - Department of Economics ( email )

28 Westhampton Way
Richmond, VA 23173
United States

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