Sonia R. Bhalotra on Job displacement, unemployment benefits and domestic violence

WIDER Seminar Series

Sonia R. Bhalotra on Job displacement, unemployment benefits and domestic violence

Sonia R. Bhalotra presents at the WIDER Seminar Series on 10 May 2023.

Job displacement, unemployment benefi ts and domestic violence

Co-authors: Diogo G. C. Brittoz, Paolo Pinottix, and Breno Sampaio


Full paper here.

We estimate impacts of male job loss, female job loss, and male unemployment benefits on domestic violence in Brazil. We merge employer-employee and social welfare registers with administrative data on domestic violence cases brought to criminal courts, use of public shelters by victims, and mandatory notifications of domestic violence by health providers. Leveraging mass layoffs for identification, we first show that both male and female job loss, independently, lead to large and pervasive increases in domestic violence. Exploiting a regression discontinuity design, we then show that unemployment benefits do not reduce domestic violence while benefits are being paid, and that they lead to higher domestic violence once benefits expire. These findings can be explained by the negative income shock brought by job loss and by increased exposure of victims to perpetrators, as partners tend to spend more time together after displacement. Although unemployment benefits partially offset the income drop following job loss, they reinforce the exposure shock as they increase unemployment duration.

About the presenter

Sonia Bhalotra is Professor of Economics at the University of Warwick. She obtained an MPhil and DPhil from Oxford and a BSc Hons from Delhi. Her research has made contributions in the areas of health, gender and political economy.

She is currently Principal Investigator on an Advanced Grant from the European Research Council 2021-2026, Co-Investigator ESRC Research Centre on Micro-Social Change at ISER Essex 2019-2024, Co-Investigator ESRC Project on Human Rights, Big Data and Technology at the Human Rights Centre Essex 2015-2021 and collaborator on a NIH (and, initially CEDIL) funded project 2020-2025. She is recently leading the Wellbeing Theme at the CAGE Research Centre at Warwick.

She is Fellow of the International Economic Association (2021-), Fellow of the UK Academy of Social Sciences (2019-), the Centre for Economic Policy Research CEPR London (2019-), IEPS Brazil (2020-), SFI Denmark (2012-) and Research Associate at IFS London.

Sonia is Associate Editor at the Economic Journal, on the Editorial Board of the Review of Income and Wealth and Senior Editor Oxford Research Encyclopaedia Economics and Finance.

Her work has contributed to understanding skill creation, the long run benefits of early life health interventions (clean water, antibiotics, infant care); maternal and child health including mental health (maternal depression, adolescent mental health), maternal mortality; domestic violence, gender inequality; the political economy of public service provision; accountability and the right to health; implementing universal health coverage; parental investments in children; intergenerational mobility, the gender pay gap and women’s labour force participation, and the dynamics of mortality, fertility and sex selection. Her research is set, inter alia, in India, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, America, the UK and Sweden.

WIDER Seminar Series

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