The Effect of Social Distancing on Police Reports of Domestic Violence

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"We analyze the effect of social distancing related to COVID-19 on domestic violence incidents in the U.S. using novel daily mobile device tracking data, the timing of stay-at-home orders, and dispatch and crime data from twenty-eight police departments. We find that reported incidents of domestic violence increase after local stay-at-home orders are enacted and that domestic violence increases with mobile device tracking measures of social distancing. Our result is consistent with an exposure reduction theory of domestic violence. When applied to the entire U.S., we estimate that social distancing increased domestic violence by approximately 6 percent, or more than 24,000 cases, from March 16 to April 30, 2020."

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