Love, Hate and Murder: Commitment Devices in Violent Relationships
47 Pages Posted: 18 Oct 2007 Last revised: 15 May 2022
Date Written: October 2007
Many violent relationships are characterized by a high degree of cyclicality: women who are the victims of domestic violence often leave and return multiple times. To explain this we develop a model of time inconsistent preferences in the context of domestic violence. This time inconsistency generates a demand for commitment. We present supporting evidence that women in violent relationships display time inconsistent preferences by examining their demand for commitment devices. We find that "no-drop" policies -- which compel the prosecutor to continue with prosecution even if the victim expresses a desire to drop the charges -- result in an increase in reporting. No-drop policies also result in a decrease in the number of men murdered by intimates suggesting that some women in violent relationships move away from an extreme type of commitment device when a less costly one is offered.
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