Abstract: Does Change in Household Economic Status Predict Change in Intimate Partner Violence? (Society for Social Work and Research 14th Annual Conference: Social Work Research: A WORLD OF POSSIBILITIES)

65P Does Change in Household Economic Status Predict Change in Intimate Partner Violence?

Friday, January 15, 2010
* noted as presenting author
Jessica L. Lucero, MSW , Wayne State University, Doctoral Student, Toledo, OH
Purpose: Intimate partner violence (IPV) continues to be a pervasive social problem in the United States. The literature suggests that IPV rates tend to be greater for couples of lower socioeconomic status. Furthermore, both couples who report high levels of financial strain and couples who experience unstable employment are more likely to experience IPV. Financial stress and lack of tangible assets significantly increases the odds of IPV. Economic pressure increases risk for emotional distress, which subsequently increases risk for marital conflict and distress. While there is evidence that IPV is associated with economic disadvantage, much of it is based on cross-sectional analyses. There is little empirical evidence which adequately explores the phenomenon of changing economic factors as predictors of parallel change in IPV rates. In order to fill this gap in the research literature, this study examines the impact of economic variables on IPV in the context of a change model. Specifically this research tests 2 hypotheses: change in household economic status will significantly predict change in IPV; and increases in household economic resources are associated with decreases in IPV rates across time.

Method: Using data collected from the Fragile Families and Child Well-Being Study, 1,410 adult females in committed relationships (33.5% white, 37.8% black, and 28.7% Hispanic) were surveyed. Change in IPV was measured by computing the difference between wave 4 and wave 2 reports of physical and emotional violence. Additionally, change in household economic status was measured by computing the difference between wave 4 and wave 2 reports of variables including employment, economic hardship, education and household income. Categorical variables were recoded to reflect no change, increase or decrease. Mediating variables included in the model were change in depression and change in parenting stress. All scale variables in the model were well-validated. Control variables included age, race/ethnicity, marital status, number of children and nativity.

Results: A multinomial logit analysis suggests that marital status, race, change in economic hardship, and change in depression are each significant predictors of change in IPV. Contrary to the proposed hypothesis, change in household income, employment and education do not serve to significantly predict change in IPV; however, change in economic hardship does significantly predict change in IPV, showing partial support for the proposed hypotheses. Change in economic hardship is significantly associated with a 3% increase in the odds that an individual would experience a decrease in IPV compared to no change in economic hardship with no change in IPV (Nagelkerke pseudo R2 = .04).

Implications: Given the current economic climate of the U.S., the changing nature of economic status is quite salient. The presented results suggest that when mediating variables of depression and parenting stress are accounted for, change in economic hardship levels might prevent an individual from experiencing a decline in IPV over time. If this is the case, practitioners would do well to more fully address economic variables in individual interventions. In so doing, one might find that the propensity for the occurrences of decreases in IPV over time would increase.