Effects of COVID-19 Shutdowns on Domestic Violence in US Cities
17 Pages Posted: 11 Oct 2021
Date Written: October 8, 2021
We empirically investigate the impact of COVID-19 shutdowns on domestic violence using real-time data on both domestic-related calls for service and crime reports on domestic violence assault from the 18 major US police departments for which both types of records are available. Although we confirm initial 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, domestic violence assaults declined significantly during shutdowns. These reductions may have resulted from increased public attention and spending to address domestic violence and its triggers during the pandemic, which suggests potential benefits from such investments. Our results fail to support claims that shutdowns increased domestic violence and suggest caution before drawing inference or basing policy on calls data alone.
Keywords: Domestic violence, COVID-19 pandemic, crime reporting, police data
JEL Classification: I18, J12, J16, K14, K42, R28
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation