Using detailed data at the local level on the number of calls to the domestic violence emergency hotline in Spain, we study the effect of the COVID-19 outbreak and the quarantine measures imposed on the help-seeking behavior of intimate partner violence victims. Our analysis focuses on Spain, which is one of the European countries that was most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and consequently implemented one of the strictest quarantine policies in Europe. We find that the implementation of the lockdown policy was associated with a 41% increase in the number of calls per 100,000 inhabitants to the emergency hotline compared to the pre-policy period. This effect was stronger during the strict confinement period but persisted in the medium term, after quarantine was lifted. Using detailed mobile phone data to measure mobility levels, we document stronger effects in provinces whose effective mobility reduction was more intense and provide evidence that the increase in domestic violence calls that we document is not driven by third party reporting. Our results are crucial from a policy perspective, as many countries are currently facing a second wave of the pandemic.
More than a year after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, countries are now facing subsequent waves of sometimes stronger and more contagious, forms of the virus. The objective of this paper is to contribute to the understanding of the long-term effects of the pandemic and its consequences on male-based violence, especially against children, in a context where governments have been reconsidering implementing partial or complete lockdown policies to mitigate the consequences of the pandemic. Our analysis focuses on Catalonia, a Spanish region which has been hardly hit by the first wave of the pandemic and in which healthcare professionals play a key role in the detection of male-based violence victims, and their protection by social services, the police or the judicial system. We exploit detailed administrative data at patient level on the use of healthcare services of male-based violence victims and use a difference-in-differences strategy at the local (county) level in order to estimate the impact of lockdown on male-based violence victims’ healthcare access. We show that the implementation of the lockdown policy led to a large and significant decrease in the number of victims detected by the healthcare services immediately after lockdown, and that this drop in detection is not compensated by later-detection after quarantine was lifted. We document that violence against children is even more likely to remain undetected in the long term. We contribute to the pre-existing body of literature by providing novel evidence on the reduction of the number of cases of violence detected against children which, of course, has strong long-term implications as children represent the most vulnerable group of male-based violence victims. This is the first paper that uses administrative data from the health care system to identify those effects. Therefore, the results of our paper will provide precious insights to design urgently needed public interventions to counterbalance the negative physical and mental consequences of untreated violence against women and children.