Intimate partner violence against women and the Nordic paradox

Soc Sci Med. 2016 May;157:27-30. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2016.03.040. Epub 2016 Mar 31.


Nordic countries are the most gender equal countries in the world, but at the same time they have disproportionally high prevalence rates of intimate partner violence (IPV) against women. High prevalence of IPV against women, and high levels of gender equality would appear contradictory, but these apparently opposite statements appear to be true in Nordic countries, producing what could be called the 'Nordic paradox'. Despite this paradox being one of the most puzzling issues in the field, this is a research question rarely asked, and one that remains unanswered. This paper explores a number of theoretical and methodological issues that may help to understand this paradox. Efforts to understand the Nordic paradox may provide an avenue to guide new research on IPV and to respond to this major public health problem in a more effective way.

Keywords: Gender equality; Individual heterogeneity; Intimate partner violence; Multilevel analysis; Nordic countries; Prevalence; Violence against women.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Intimate Partner Violence / psychology*
  • Intimate Partner Violence / statistics & numerical data
  • Prevalence*
  • Risk Factors
  • Scandinavian and Nordic Countries
  • Surveys and Questionnaires