Does Women’s Labor Force Participation Reduce Domestic Violence? Evidence from Jordan

Jana Lenze and Stephan Klasen

Enhancing women’s labor force participation is seen as a way to promote their empowerment and improve their well-being and that of their children. The empirical literature on the relationship between women’s employment status and domestic violence is less clear-cut. Using quantitative data from Jordan in 2007, this study explores the effect of women’s employment, as measured by their participation in paid work outside the home, on reported domestic violence, controlling for the potential endogeneity of women’s employment, which might bias the relationship between employment and domestic violence. Without taking endogeneity into account, the regression results suggest that a woman’s participation in paid work enhances violence by her husband. After controlling for endogeneity, these results turn out to be insignificant, which suggests that women’s work status has no causal influence on marital violence. Differentiating between various types of domestic violence provides weak evidence that women’s employment lowers sexual violence.

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