Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Domestic Violence in Los Angeles
Around the world, policymakers and news reports warned that the COVID-19 pandemic, and attendant restrictions on individual mobility and commercial activity, could lead to a surge in domestic violence (DV). Some prominent initial studies of the effects of the pandemic showed evidence of greater DV incidence, but findings were inconsistent across locations and DV measures. This paper focuses on a single major city, Los Angeles, to measure the impact of the initial pandemic shutdown on three DV measures based on police data (911 calls, crime incidents, and arrests) as well as measures based on two non-police administrative sources (the county DV hotline and hospital records). After confirming the prior finding of an increase in DV calls to police during the shutdown, we also show that calls to the hotline increased. However, we find that DV crimes recorded by police and hospital visits by female assault (and DV) victims both decreased significantly, suggesting that the increase in calls came from higher reporting rates, possibly for verbal disputes. Arrests per population for DV crimes were unaffected by the shutdown, but a higher share of DV crimes led to arrests. This points against a decrease in the intensity of policing of DV crimes driving the lower crime rate. We conclude that the initial LA shutdown increased the rates at which people contacted authorities about domestic-related concerns, but decreased the overall incidence of physical DV crimes in the population.
Amalia R. Miller & Carmit Segal & Melissa K. Spencer, 2024. "Effects of the ‐19 pandemic on domestic violence in Los Angeles," Economica, vol 91(361), pages 163-187. citation courtesy of