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05 Sep 2013

New study reveals cost of domestic violence could be 10% of national income

Cost of domestic violence could be 10% of national income

Cost of domestic violence could be 10% of national income

An Open University study has revealed that the cost of domestic violence could be as much as 10% of national income (measured by GDP).The estimate is much higher than any previous published studies and is published in an article entitled Cost of domestic violence: a life satisfaction approach, as part of a special issue on wellbeing in the journal Fiscal Studies, due to be published on 5 September 2013.

The paper, authored by Dr Cristina Santos using data developed by Professor Paul Anand, both economists at The Open University, estimates the costs of domestic violence using a method that had not been used before. It has enabled the researchers to develop estimates in terms of household income which start from £27,000 per annum per victim and range much higher depending on whether violence was experienced recently or not, the household’s income and the victim’s sex. At national level, these figures suggest that the costs of domestic could be 10% of national income, or more.

Dr Cristina Santos says ‘Whilst it is important to recognise that reported domestic violence incidents in the UK have been decreasing, our estimates of domestic violence are much higher than previous methods. The new approach estimates models of life satisfaction using detailed data on the experience and fear of violence whereas previous lower estimates by economists have been based on the financial costs of policing and criminal justice. The study therefore helps to demonstrate that domestic violence is a significant quality of life issue in the UK and much more so than some earlier studies have acknowledged.

Professor Paul Anand says ‘The data used in this study were designed to capture some key aspects of quality of life. Our resulting estimates are staggering and indicate that the emotional costs are much higher than the resources normally spent on eradicating the problem. These finding therefore support calls by domestic violence charities for government to fully implement and resource national domestic violence policies.
In addition, our research also finds some evidence that women with higher levels of education, other things equal, may be more of a target for this kind of abuse. This prompts us to speculate that role confusion in males may be a contributing cause in some cases: if so, this would have significant implications for the design of programmes to prevent incidents of domestic violence in future.

The study also finds evidence that the worst cases of domestic violence happen to individuals right after a relationship breakdown. This might not only reflect the fact that respondents may have ended the relationship due to the level of violence but also that the separation before a break-up may have generated violence.

The research also found that victims of domestic violence generally had lower incomes and confirmed the established theory that incidents of domestic violence are higher in black, Asian and minority groups.

It is hoped that this paper will form the basis for further research into the integrated cost-benefit analysis of domestic violence and policy evaluations to develop a clearer assessment of its true impact to create more effective support for families where domestic violence occurs.

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To contact Dr Cristina Santos:
Email: c.santos@open.ac.uk

To contact Paul Anand:
Email: p.anand@open.ac.uk


About Fiscal Studies
Fiscal Studies is a peer-reviewed journal published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS). The publisher, editors and the IFS cannot be held responsible for errors or any consequences arising from the use of information contained in this journal; the views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher, editors and IFS. Further information: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1111/%28ISSN%291475-5890/issues

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