Online Seminar Talk
Safer if Connected? Mobile Technology and Intimate Partner Violence
Luca Maria Pesando
Laboratory of Digital and Computational Demography, November 10, 2021
Luca Maria Pesando from the McGill University examined whether individual ownership of mobile phones is associated with the likelihood of women experiencing intimate partner violence across ten low- and middle-income countries.
Mobile phones are an invaluable economic asset for low-income individuals and an important tool for strengthening social ties. Mobile phones may also help women overcome physical boundaries, especially in places where they are separated from support networks and are bound within their husbands’ social spheres. Using micro-level data on women and men from recent Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) including new information on mobile-phone ownership, this study examines whether individual ownership of mobile phones is associated with the likelihood of women experiencing intimate partner violence (IPV) across ten low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Findings show that women’s ownership of mobile phones is associated with a 9-12 percent decrease in the likelihood of experiencing emotional, physical, and sexual violence over the previous 12 months, even after controlling for a host of characteristics proxying for socioeconomic status, household resources, and local development within the community. Estimates are negative in seven out of the 10 countries and results robust to the use of non-parametric matching techniques and instrumental variables built through geo-referenced ancillary sources. Exploring two potential mechanisms, I show that mobile-phone ownership is positively associated with women’s decision-making power within the household (decision-making power) and less acceptability of IPV on the part of male partners (attitudes). Findings speak to scholars and policymakers interested in how technology diffusion relates to dynamics of women’s empowerment and global development.
Luca Maria Pesando is an Assistant Professor of Demography and Sociology at the Department of Sociology and Centre on Population Dynamics, McGill University. His research interests are in the areas of social, economic, and digital demography, with a focus on the intergenerational implications of family change for educational and gender inequalities. He is also a Research Affiliate at the Population Studies Center (PSC), University of Pennsylvania, and the Dondena Centre for Research on Social Dynamics and Public Policy, Bocconi University. For the years 2022-2024, he has been selected as a Jacobs Foundation Research Fellow by the Jacobs Foundation, Switzerland.