One reason domestic violence is more
common in poor countries is that money
worries are stressful, and men are more
likely to lash out when stressed. But there
are more fundamental reasons. There is
seldom much of a welfare state to fall back
on if women leave their husbands and cannot
find work. Family and neighbours may
judge them. In Africa the difference between
the share of women who have been
attacked in their lifetime and those who
have been attacked in the past year is relatively
small, suggesting many are trapped.
Education seems a promising avenue.
In the long run, it empowers women and
makes them less vulnerable to abuse. But
in the short run, it does not always help.
In sub-Saharan Africa women who attended
primary or secondary school are more likely to be abused
by their partners than those with no schooling.
Only university-level education correlates with a lower
likelihood of abuse. It may be that in countries
where universal education is relatively
new, a little schooling emboldens wives to
challenge their husbands, without giving
them the means to walk away. Work follows
a similar pattern. Women in Africa
who work are more likely to be abused by
their partners than those who do not.
Again, this may be because as women gain
a little more independence, their husbands
try extra hard to keep them down.