NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Violence Against Women: A Cross-cultural Analysis for Africa

Alberto Alesina, Benedetta Brioschi, Eliana La Ferrara

NBER Working Paper No. 21901
Issued in January 2016
NBER Program(s):Political Economy

Using a new dataset, we investigate the determinants of violence against women in Africa. We focus on cultural factors arising from pre-colonial customs and find evidence consistent with two hypotheses. First, ancient socioeconomic conditions determine social norms about gender roles, family structures and intrafamily violence which persist even when the initial conditions change. Norms about marriage patterns, living arrangements and the productive role of women are associated with contemporary violence. Second, women’s contemporary economic role affects violence in a complex way which is itself related to traditional norms in ancient times and current bargaining power within the marriage.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w21901

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