There has been increasing interest in understanding how macro-level contextual characteristics are associated with intra-couple dynamics, such as intimate partner violence (IPV). I extend this literature by exploring whether contextual changes in women's status are associated with IPV at the couple level. I focus on case studies from four Eastern African countries - Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, and Zimbabwe - where there were large contextual declines in educational hypergamy - a measure of women's status - between 2000 and 2010. Using Demographic Health Survey data and a multilevel approach, I find that regional declines in hypergamy are associated with significantly higher probabilities of wives' reports of recent intimate partner violence in Kenya, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. These findings are consistent with relative resource theories that predict that gender-status inconsistencies correspond with backlash, although they extend existing theories by looking at the macro level and considering contextual changes in women's status over time. To the contrary, regional declines in hypergamy are associated with significantly lower probabilities of wives' reports of recent intimate partner violence in Malawi, which may have to do with a long-standing history of matrilineal norms in this context. The analysis enhances sociological understandings of how contextual changes in gender conditions are associated with micro-level couple outcomes, but also points to important heterogeneity across diverse contexts.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science