The Impact of Natural Disaster Shock on Domestic Violence: Evidence from Bangladesh


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In this paper, I will try to see if adverse environmental shock can affect domestic abuse in household. I have a unique survey data from Bangladesh which I can use for my analysis. I will use hurricane incident as the exogenous shock on the households. I will control for large set of demographic variables for the households and communities.


Violence against women is a major public health issue and is getting more attention in economics research these days. According to WHO, more than 35% of women worldwide faced domestic violence from their intimate partner. Even in a developed country like the USA, the situation is not much better. More than 31 percent of women in the United States have been physically abused by an intimate partner at some point in their lives, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There are many effects caused by domestic violence. It can cause serious mental and physical harm to the victim, it can reduce the overall productivity of the household, cause spending of government resource etc.

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Literature review

There is a strand of literature that investigates the reason for domestic violence using the bargaining model. In Gelles (1976), women who have higher or better outside opportunities face less domestic violence against them. Also, there are some papers which show that better income opportunities for women leads to less domestic violence against them. My paper is closely related to some of the recent literature. Sekhri and Storeygard (2014) find that rainfall shock has substantial effect on death caused by domestic abuse or dowry. Cools (2015) tried to see how weather variations affect violence against women in Africa. They used rainfall variations in their analysis to see the affect. They find that droughts can cause abuse in relationship where the women works in the field of agriculture and the husband works in other sector.


On behalf of the researchers of Florida International University (FIU), a face to face household survey on coastal vulnerability and livelihood security was conducted by the Evaluation and Consulting Services (ECONS) Limited in Bangladesh. In the demographic section, I have the geo-coded location of the households, gather information on household size, the head of the household’s age, gender, religion and marital status, availability of electricity in the residence among others. To get a clear picture of the economic condition of the households, I have collected data on earnings, assets, land and financial support, such as credit and relief, among others.

Identification strategy

It’s difficult to estimate the reason for domestic violence as there may be many shocks to the family’s income or the families have different socioeconomic background. So, we need a exogenous variation that might affect the household income or cause some change to the demographic variables of the household.

The incidence of hurricane can be considered as a exogenous shock. In the literature, there is use of variation in rainfall as an exogenous shock. I think hurricane incident can be a better shock as it can cause much more sudden and long-term shock to the household. Dih =α+ β hurricane shock+ X’ ih +εihHere, D is the domestic abuse variable which is a dummy variable. It takes value 1 if abuse happened within two months of hurricane and 0 if not. Β is the hurricane shock. X is household demographic characteristics such as household size, number of children, gender of household head, average household age, an indicator for rural households, proxies for household wealth, and whether the household has taken out credit. Individual controls consist of demographic characteristics including individual’s age, gender, education, occupation categories and marital status.

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