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Domestic violence and women's autonomy in developing countries: theory and evidence

Mukesh Eswaran () and Nisha Malhotra ()

Canadian Journal of Economics, 2011, vol. 44, issue 4, 1222-1263

Abstract: This paper sets out a simple non-cooperative model of resource allocation within the household in developing countries that incorporates domestic violence as a vehicle for enhancing bargaining power. We demonstrate that the extent of domestic violence faced by women is not necessarily declining in their reservation utilities, or necessarily increasing in their spouses'. Using the National Family Health Survey data of India for 1998-99, we isolate the effect of domestic violence on female autonomy, taking into account the possible endogeneity of domestic violence through the choice of appropriate instruments. We provide some evidence for the evolutionary theory of domestic violence, which argues that such violence stems from the jealousy caused by paternity uncertainty in our evolutionary past. The findings have strong policy implications suggesting that it will take more than an improvement in women's employment options to address the problem of spousal violence.

JEL-codes: J16 D7 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2011
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