Families under Confinement: COVID-19 and Domestic Violence
30 Pages Posted: 10 Sep 2020 Last revised: 26 Sep 2022
Date Written: September 7, 2020
This study considers whether domestic violence increased during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mexico City. We use two separate data sources to study this question--domestic violence call-center calls and official police reports. Using both an event-study design and difference-in-differences, we show that while domestic violence during the pandemic continued (and even increased), police reports of domestic violence declined. During the pandemic, call-center calls for psychological violence increased by 17% and physical domestic violence by 7%. Despite this increase, police reports of domestic violence decreased by 22%. By December of 2020, both types of domestic violence reports had returned to baseline levels. To reconcile the discrepancies between hotline calls and reported domestic violence incidents, we consider several potential mechanisms. We find suggestive evidence that the increase in psychological domestic violence is related to stress-inducing income loss. We also show evidence indicating that women faced difficulties reporting their abusive partners to the police during the lockdown, explaining the reduction in domestic violence police reports. Our findings suggest that the COVID-19 lockdown prevented reporting of domestic violence even while violence continued or even increased.
Keywords: Domestic Violence, COVID-19, Latin America, Mexico
JEL Classification: J12, J16, J18
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation