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The effect of sheltering in place on police reports of domestic violence in the US

This study analyzes the effect of sheltering in place in response to COVID-19 on domestic violence incidents in the US using novel daily mobile device tracking data, the timing of shelter-in-place orders, and dispatch and crime data from twenty-eight police departments in eighteen US states. Findings show that reports of domestic violence rise after local shelter-in-place orders are enacted and that domestic violence increases with measures of sheltering in place, as indicated by mobile device tracking data. This result is consistent with an exposure reduction theory of domestic violence and, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, underscores the importance of providing potential victims of violence with spaces that are safe from abusers and risk of infection. When applied to the entire US, it is estimated that sheltering in place increased domestic violence by approximately 6 percent, or more than 24,000 cases, from March 16 to April 30, 2020.

Hsu, L. C., & Henke, A. (2020). The effect of sheltering in place on police reports of domestic violence in the US. Feminist Economics, 1-18.

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