Costs of Domestic Violence: A Life Satisfaction Approach


  • Submitted May 2012.

  • The author gratefully acknowledges financial support from Sub-Programa Ciência e Tecnologia do Segundo Quadro Comunitário de Apoio, grant number PRAXIS XXI/BD/4920/2001. She would also like to thank Paul Anand, Daniel Anderberg, Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell, Marcos Vera, anonymous referees, several conference participants at IAFFE (International Association for Feminist Economics) 2008 and HDCA (Human Development and Capability Association) 2007, and seminar participants at the Open University and at University College London for useful comments. She is also indebted to Paul Anand who authorised the use of these data. The usual disclaimer applies.


This paper discusses and estimates the costs of domestic violence using a life satisfaction approach. It draws on a British cross-sectional data set that includes individual self-reported life satisfaction, household income and experienced domestic violence. The paper estimates the costs of domestic violence as the compensating variation of domestic violence resulting from estimating a life satisfaction regression equation. Some attempts to deal with the problem of self-selection into abusive relationships and to account for the endogeneity of household income are discussed and implemented. The results suggest that domestic violence is costed very highly by its victims, with estimates ranging from £27,000 to over £70,000. Hence this paper contributes to the literature on valuing non-marketable goods and discusses the usefulness of a life satisfaction approach when estimating the costs of domestic violence. It claims that, despite its shortcomings, a life satisfaction approach allows for a valuation of domestic violence and answers questions often not answered by other valuation methods.