The impact of child welfare legislation on domestic violence-related homicide rates

Health Econ. 2018 May;27(5):908-915. doi: 10.1002/hec.3643. Epub 2018 Feb 21.


State-specific statutes providing legal consequences for perpetrating domestic violence in the presence of a child have been enacted across the United States between 1996 and 2012. This paper examines the impact of this child welfare legislation, using a difference-in-differences approach. We find a significant drop in domestic violence-related homicide rates, when considering a wide range of victim-offender relationships. However, this result does not hold for marital homicides, suggesting that for this subpopulation, the risk of reprisal and consequent reduction in reporting may be counterbalancing the hypothesized deterrent impacts of the legislation.

Keywords: child witness; difference-in-differences; domestic violence; homicide; youth.

MeSH terms

  • Age Distribution
  • Child
  • Child Welfare*
  • Domestic Violence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Homicide / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marital Status
  • Sex Distribution
  • United States