Household and Neighborhood Contexts of Intimate Partner Violence

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SYNOPSISObjectives.Two sources of contextual risk on the prevalence and severity of intimate partner violence (IPV) are investigated: household economic condition and neighborhood disadvantage. There is debate about whether each context is an independent source of IPV risk and whether risks cumulate over contexts.Methods.Data from the second wave of the National Survey of Families and Households are combined with tract level data from the 1990 U.S. Census. A sub-sample of co-resident couples with a child aged 5-17 in the household was selected for analysis (n=2,273). IPV is measured in three ways: as any physical violence reported by either partner in the year prior to the survey, as gendered violence in which both partners are identified as aggressors, and as severe violence in terms of injury and frequency.Results.Regardless of how IPV is assessed, couples with IPV are more likely to present a vulnerable economic risk profile and to live in neighborhoods of high disadvantage. When economically vulnerable couples living in advantaged versus disadvantaged neighborhoods are compared, there are no significant differences in rates of IPV, regardless of the measure of IPV that is used. Neighborhood context matters, however, in comparisons among economically advantaged couples: rates of IPV are significantly higher among those in disadvantaged neighborhoods.Conclusions.The consistency of effect for economic vulnerability and its invariance across neighborhood settings suggests that reducing economic vulnerability is likely to have beneficial effects in both disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged neighborhoods.

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