Effects of COVID-19 Shutdowns on Domestic Violence in US Cities
47 Pages Posted: 11 Oct 2021 Last revised: 18 Jan 2022
Date Written: January 14, 2022
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 also find no evidence that domestic violence crimes increased. Rather, police reports of domestic violence assaults declined significantly during the initial shutdown period. There was no significant change in intimate partner homicides during shutdown months and victimization survey reports of intimate partner violence were lower. Our results fail to support claims that shutdowns increased domestic violence and suggest caution before drawing inference or basing policy solely on data from calls to police.
Keywords: Domestic violence, COVID-19 pandemic, crime reporting, police data
JEL Classification: I18, J12, J16, K14, K42, R28
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation