The Effects of Women's Employment on Intimate Partner Violence in West Africa



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My dissertation consists of two studies on how women's employment opportunities and education affect their experiences of domestic violence in West Africa. The first chapter explores how a severe environmental condition such as the Harmattan dust pollution, which disproportionately reduces women's employment in West Africa, affects intimate partner violence. I find that one standard deviation above the mean of dust pollution exposure significantly decreases women's employment by 7 percentage points. Conditional on having been employed, they are 8.2 percentage points less likely to work away from their homes. The results also show that more exposure to dust pollution leads to a significant increase in women's experiences and acceptance of intimate partner violence. A further exploration of the channels indicates that dust pollution exposure significantly decreases women's ability to pay a substantial portion of family expenses and make decisions within the household, but increases time spent at home and time spent with their partners which leads to more exposure. The second chapter takes advantage of a differential exposure across birth cohorts of Nigeria's universal primary educational policy to study the causal effects of a plausibly exogenous increase in women's and men's educational attainment on the prevalence of domestic violence. I find that the policy significantly increased women's educational attainment and decreased their experiences of emotional and severe domestic violence. Exploring the mechanisms, I find that the increase in women's education led to a significant increase in their household decision making power and impacted the formation of their marriages which may have reduced their exposure to potential abusive partners. The policy also increased men's education and their spouses are significantly less likely to experience severe domestic violence such as kicking, strangling, or threats with a weapon. A further investigation of the channels suggests that these relatively more educated men also marry more educated women and have more household wealth, all of which can lead to a decrease in domestic violence.



Employment, Intimate Partner Violence, Education