Gender wage gap and male perpetrated child abuse

Zainab Hans, Michael H. Belzer


Given that child abuse and intimate partner violence often co-occur, intra-household bargaining models provide a useful framework to investigate the relationship between macro-economic factors and child abuse. Non-cooperative bargaining models predict that labor market opportunities that benefit women improve their bargaining power and lower the risk of intimate partner violence against them. We posit that this protective effect extends to children as well. We examine the impact of gender specific wages and employment on police reported child abuse using incident level data from South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. Our results show that narrowing the gender wage gap leads to a decline in child sexual abuse reported to the police. While effects on physical abuse are similar in direction, they are not statistically significant. The findings underscore important spillover benefits of policy solutions directed towards narrowing the gender wage gap.

Keywords: child abuse, gender gap, macro-economic factors