Abstract: IPV and Economic Mobility (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

All live presentations are in Eastern time zone.

IPV and Economic Mobility

Thursday, January 21, 2021
* noted as presenting author
Juliann Nicholson, MSW, Doctoral Candidate, Boston University School of Social Work, Boston, MA
Daniel Miller, PhD, Associate Professor, Boston University, Boston, MA
Background and Purpose: Research has shown that intimate partner violence (IPV) increases survivors’ risk for a number of poor economic outcomes, including poverty, food insecurity, and material hardship. No studies to date, however, have examined the effects of IPV on economic mobility. Accordingly, this study first aims to understand the effects of IPV on economic mobility for women. Further, with an eye toward informing intervention efforts, we test the possible moderating effects of several key variables, which may be amenable to intervention and reduce the effects of IPV: job stability, housing stability, fathers’ financial support, job training, and social support.

Methods: We use six waves of data from the Fragile Families and Child Well Being Study (FFCWS), a national panel dataset, which is noteworthy for its longitudinal and comprehensive data collection on IPV. With repeated measurements of IPV, potential moderators, and key dependent variables of interest, we estimate individual fixed effects models, which rely solely on within-person change over time, discarding across-person variation that is a likely source of bias in observational data (Allison, 2009). At each survey wave, mothers reported on multiple types of IPV, and we operationalize IPV in a variety of ways, including the experience of any IPV (0-1), severity of IPV (a summary of the number of types IPV experienced), and indicators for distinct experiences of physical violence and coercive control. We measure economic mobility as the change in log annual earnings and the change in educational attainment; we capture mobility by comparing earnings and education at baseline (the birth of the study focal child) to mothers’ earnings and education at subsequent survey waves. Finally, we create interaction terms between IPV and the variables described above to test potential moderating effects. Our analyses control for time-varying covariates that might be associated with economic mobility and IPV, including mother characteristics and family and community factors.

Results: Preliminary results suggest that IPV is negatively associated with economic mobility, and that that several key variables (e.g., job stability, fathers’ financial support) may reduce the negative associations between intimate partner violence and economic mobility.

Conclusions and Implications: These findings have important implications for policy and programming efforts to support women experiencing IPV. Self-sufficiency and economic stability are key aims for many survivors, and for the social workers and advocates working with them. By examining variables that may buffer the negative effects of IPV on economic mobility, the current study highlights several promising areas for intervention.