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Violence in Intimate Relationships as Women Transition from Welfare to Work (WP-02-32)

Elizabeth Votruba-Drzal, Brenda J. Lohman, and P. Lindsay Chase-Lansdale

High rates of domestic violence among low-income women are of concern to policymakers, researchers, and advocates as women move from welfare to work in the wake of welfare reform. This study uses longitudinal data from a low-income sample of women (N=2,128) to examine associations between welfare and employment transitions and domestic violence. Results suggest that women who remain on welfare are subject to higher rates of abuse over time, while those who transition off welfare experience reductions in nearly all measures of domestic violence. Although domestic violence was not associated with women’s entry into the paid labor force, increasing rates of domestic violence were linked to women’s ability to maintain stable paid employment. The implications of these analyses for policy and practice are discussed in light of welfare reauthorization.

Elizabeth Votruba-Drzal, Doctoral student, Human Development and Social Policy, Northwestern University

Brenda J. Lohman, Research Associate, Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University

P. Lindsay Chase-Lansdale, Human Development and Social Policy, Northwestern University