Effects of Covid-19 Shutdowns on Domestic Violence in Us Cities
44 Pages Posted: 1 Nov 2021 Last revised: 29 Nov 2021
Date Written: October 2021
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 find no evidence that domestic violence crimes increased. Rather, domestic violence assaults declined significantly during the initial shutdown period and there was no significant change in intimate partner homicides in these months. Nationwide intimate partner violence rates in the National Crime Victimization Survey, including crimes not reported to police, were also lower during shutdown months. Our results fail to support claims that shutdowns increased domestic violence and suggest caution before drawing inference or basing policy on calls data alone.
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