Effects of COVID-19 Shutdowns on Domestic Violence in US Cities

17 Pages Posted: 11 Oct 2021

See all articles by Amalia R. Miller

Amalia R. Miller

University of Virginia - Department of Economics

Carmit Segal

University of Zurich - Department of Economics

Melissa Spencer

University of Richmond - Department of Economics

Date Written: October 8, 2021

Abstract

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

Miller, Amalia R. and Segal, Carmit and Spencer, Melissa, Effects of COVID-19 Shutdowns on Domestic Violence in US Cities (October 8, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3938970

Amalia R. Miller (Contact Author)

University of Virginia - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 400182
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4182
United States

HOME PAGE: http://people.virginia.edu/~am5by/

Carmit Segal

University of Zurich - Department of Economics ( email )

Winterthurerstrasse 30
Z├╝rich, CH-8006
Switzerland

HOME PAGE: http://sites.google.com/site/carmitsegal/

Melissa Spencer

University of Richmond - Department of Economics ( email )

28 Westhampton Way
Richmond, VA 23173
United States

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