64th ISI World Statistics Congress - Ottawa, Canada

64th ISI World Statistics Congress - Ottawa, Canada

A Review of Domestic Violence Data in Free, Harmonized International Survey Data from IPUMS


Devon Kristiansen



64th ISI World Statistics Congress - Ottawa, Canada

Format: CPS Abstract

Session: CPS 39 - Official statistics: gender roles

Tuesday 18 July 8:30 a.m. - 9:40 a.m. (Canada/Eastern)


IPUMS Global Health is the world’s largest repository of free, harmonized global health survey data. IPUMS Global Health includes harmonized versions of the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS), the Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS), and Performance Monitoring for Action (PMA) surveys, each of which measures domestic violence (DV) for women of childbearing age. This paper documents the available information about domestic violence, demonstrates the promise and pitfalls of combining data across surveys, and maps the incidence of recent intimate partner violence (IPV) across countries.
The most widely studied form of domestic violence experienced by adult women is from a current or recent spouse or sexual partner. Attitudes toward domestic violence are gauged by DHS and MICS. Information about ever and/or recently experiencing abuse from an intimate partner is collected by all three surveys. Types of intimate partner violence covered include emotional abuse, physical abuse, and sexual abuse. Survivors of IPV were also asked about whether and where they sought help.
While the above broad description fits all three global health surveys, analysts need to be aware of subtle differences in question wording. PMA includes a broad question about physical abuse (“slapped, hit, or hurt in the past 12 months”) and a narrower question about threats with a weapon and attempted strangulation; DHS includes multiple questions about specific types of physical harm and about IVP both “ever” and “in the past 12 months.” The authors will provide a visual summary of the IPV-related variables in the three global health datasets and highlight the closest equivalent variables across data collections. This summary material can guide analysts in finding similar variables and avoiding inadvertent errors.
Violence is also perpetrated by other family members and social connections. IPUMS DHS, PMA, and MICS include questions about non-IPV violence toward women of childbearing age, but these variables differ in their details. PMA asks about violence from another household member (not a spouse); MICS asks about being beaten as a daughter-in-law; and DHS asks open-ended questions to identify perpetrators ranging from specific relatives and in-laws to teachers and police. Domestic violence experienced during pregnancy is probed in both PMA and DHS, but the former asks women who recently gave birth and the latter asks about violence during pregnancy any time in the past. The authors will provide a visual summary of non-IPV domestic violence across the three data collections and highlight the closest equivalent variables across sources.
A striking finding is how drastically attitudes toward domestic violence and the reported incidence of IPV varies across countries and over time. In general, the acceptability of “wife-beating” is declining. Thematic maps showing the prevalence of reported recent IPV by country and decade will highlight an extraordinary range of attitudes and behavior. By cautiously combining data on recent IPV from IPUMS DHS, MICS, and PMA, we will demonstrate the variation in this threat to women’s health across multiple countries, regions, and decades.