Community Effects and Domestic Violence in South India

Nancy Luke, Brown University

This paper exploits a unique setting – tea estates in South India – to identify community effects on domestic violence and how violence is perpetuated within a social group. Low and high caste tea workers earn the same income and have access to identical facilities, allowing us to control for socioeconomic differences by caste that are prevalent in Tamil Nadu. We find a significant caste-gap in domestic violence on the tea estates, with lower caste women more likely to have been abused. What is it about the low castes that brings about a higher prevalence of domestic violence? Using data from a survey of 3700 female workers and in-depth interviews, we test two hypotheses: First, that income differentials between spouses affect violence differentially by caste, and second, that the culture of domestic violence that exists among the low castes in Tamil Nadu persists among the migrants to the tea estates.

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Presented in Poster Session 4: Migration, Income, Employment, Neighborhoods and Residential Context