Violence in the Great Recession

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Substantial evidence suggests that economic hardship causes violence. However, a large majority of this research relies on observational studies that use traditional violence surveillance systems that suffer from selection bias and over-represent vulnerable populations, such as people of color. To overcome limitations of prior work, we employed a quasi-experimental design to assess the impact of the Great Recession on explicit violence diagnoses (injuries identified to be caused by a violent event) and proxy violence diagnoses (injuries highly correlated with violence) for child maltreatment, intimate partner violence, elder abuse, and their combination. We used Minnesota hospital data (2004-2014), conducting a difference-in-differences analysis at the county level (n = 86) using linear regression to compare changes in violence rates from before the recession (2004-2007) to after the recession (2008-2014) in counties most affected by the recession, versus changes over the same time period in counties less affected by the recession. The findings suggested that the Great Recession had little or no impact on explicitly identified violence; however, it affected proxy-identified violence. Counties that were more highly affected by the Great Recession saw a greater increase in the average rate of proxy-identified child abuse, elder abuse, intimate partner violence, and combined violence when compared with less-affected counties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0123182
Pages (from-to)1847-1855
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican journal of epidemiology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:


  • Great Recession
  • child abuse
  • difference-in-differences
  • elder abuse
  • hospital data
  • intimate partner violence
  • violence


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