Effects of prolonged lockdown on domestic violence. Evidence from Italy.

MATTEO MIGHELI (University of Torino)
MARGHERITA SARACENO (University of Pavia)
IRENE PAXIMADAS (University of Pavia)
DAVIDE VALERI PERUTA (University of Milano-Bicocca)


According to the anecdotal evidence, local lockdowns and other non-medical measures aimed at mitigating the Covid-19 pandemic contributed to a significant increase in domestic violence worldwide. Although the Italian data from a descriptive point of view seem to confirm this trend, the complex relationships between mitigation measures and domestic violence require a more refined study. In fact, domestic violence might have surged because of various reasons, including the augmented time women had to spend restricted at home (Exposure Theory) and the negative economic consequences of anti-pandemic mitigation measures (Bargaining Power Theory vs. Male Backlash). All these phenomena may have also been exacerbated by the increased domestic consumption of alcohol and drugs. The aim of this study is to disentangle the complex relations between Covid-19 mitigation measures and domestic violence, particularly concentrating on the Exposure Theory. Trends in domestic violence are measured using text-mining techniques applied to the platform Google Trends, looking at the day-by-day records for domestic violence related terms. Non-medical Covid-19 mitigation measures are proxied by either air pollution generated by road traffic and heating at local level, or by the Stringency Index calculated by The Oxford Coronavirus Government Response Tracker (OxCGRT) project. The empirical analysis confirm the positive relationship between exposure time and frequency of domestic violence.

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