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Access Type

WSU Access

Date of Award

January 2022

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Michael Belzer


Increase in female wages relative to male wages is expected to decrease the risk of intimate partner violence and economic abuse by enhancing women’s bargaining power. The opposite can be true when increased economic resources induce backlash from male partners. I posit that if improvements in bargaining power lead to a reduction in violence against women, then as long as the mother’s utility function includes child’s welfare the protective effect should also extend to children as well. Recognizing that sex segregation within industries is an important driver of the gender gap, I investigate causal impact of wages on different forms of IPV and child abuse. The results show that increase in female wages relative to male wages leads to significant declines in both physical IPV and economic abuse. Narrowing the gender wage gap also leads to significant decline in child sexual abuse perpetrated by biological and non-biological fathers. Increase in women’s employment, on the other hand, does not yield any such effects. These findings underscore the benefits of raising female wages and indicate that any policy solutions directed towards this objective will have important spillover benefits. In addition to the direct and protective effect on victims, larger effects transmitted via children’s well-being and their future productivity in the labor force can be substantial and should be considered explicitly in policy decisions.

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