Female Income, Women's Status, and Spousal Violence: Effects of the Mexican Progresa Program

Gustavo J. Bobonis, University of Toronto
Roberto Castro, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
Melissa Gonzalez-Brenes, University of Massachusetts at Amherst

Although a growing literature examines the relationship between women’s economic status and spousal violence, compelling empirical evidence remains scarce. This paper uses a regression discontinuity approach to identify and estimate the effect of the Progresa program – a conditional cash transfer scheme partly intended to improve women’s status within the household – on spousal violence. In contrast to existing studies, the research design allows us to identify the causal effect of women’s socio-economic status on spousal violence. In addition, we use multiple measures of spousal violence—physical, sexual, emotional, economic—and examine both prevalence and intensity. The evidence suggests that women in beneficiary households are as likely to be victims of spousal violence. However, the distinction between the different types of abuse is meaningful; although women in beneficiary households are as likely to be victims of physical, sexual, and economic violence, they are more likely to be victims of emotional violence.

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Presented in Session 110: Using Policy Variation to Identify Demographic Change