Centre for Development Economics
Department of Economics, Delhi School of Economics


Job Displacement, Unemployment Benefits, and Domestic Violence
Sonia Bhalotra (University of Essex)

This is a joint work with Diogo Britto (Bocconi), Paolo Pinotti (Bocconi), Breno Sampaio (Pernambuco)

Thursday, 18 February 2021 at 3:00 PM IST


We provide the first causal estimates of impacts of individual job displacement of men and women on the risk of domestic violence and also the first estimates of whether unemployment benefits mitigate these impacts. Estimating this confluence of three parameters on a given sample places us in a strong position to illuminate the underlying mechanisms. Using data on the 2 million domestic violence cases brought to criminal courts in Brazil during 2009-2018, we identify the defendant and plaintiff in longitudinal employment registers. Leveraging mass layoffs for identification, we find that both male and female job loss, independently, lead to a large, pervasive increase in domestic violence. Exploiting a discontinuity in unemployment insurance eligibility, we find that it does not ameliorate while benefits are being paid, and that eligible men are more likely to commit domestic violence than ineligible men once benefits expire. Our findings are consistent with job loss constituting a negative shock to income and identity and a positive shock to time. Unemployment benefits tend to offset the income shock but reinforce the time shock.

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