Economic Dependence and Spousal Abuse in an Exit-Voice-Leave Framework

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date



College of Business and Economics


Department of Economics

Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Kelly Chen


Domestic violence is pervasive in the United States, with one in three women and one in four men experiencing some form of intimate-partner violence over the course of their lifetime. Established literature shows a positive connection between economic dependence on an intimate partner and rates of abuse, but additional research with more recent data could provide a clearer picture. Adapting the rational-actor Exit-Voice-Leave (EVL) model from political science and indexes of abuse and financial dependence could help explain the actions of actors in abusive relationships while examining the effect of economic dependence on abuse severity and frequency. This is important due to policy implications surrounding domestic and financial abuse. The National Survey of Families and Households (NSFH) provides information surrounding health of families with measures ranging from economic health to presence of physical violence within relations. This research utilizes panel data – all three waves of the NSFH study – to examine how changes in perceived and real economic dependence impact spousal abuse, with a specific focus placed on abuse faced by women. This adds to existing literature by utilizing more recent data and constructing a new framework for evaluating spousal abuse.

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