Rainfall Shocks and Intimate Partner Violence in Sub-Saharan Africa


Cools, Sara, Martin Flatø, and Andreas Kotsadam. 2020. “Rainfall Shocks and Intimate Partner Violence in Sub-Saharan Africa.” Journal of Peace Research 57 (3): 377–90.

Authors: Sara Cools, Martin Flatø, Andreas Kotsadam


Global climate change makes extreme precipitation events likely to become more frequent and intense in large parts of Africa. We study the effect of rainfall shocks on intimate partner violence in sub-Saharan Africa. The analysis shows the presence of spatial autocorrelation in rainfall shocks, which compromises the exogeneity of rainfall shocks in many applications. We correct for the autocorrelation using spatial polynomials. In particular, we use three different estimation strategies. We first use the complete cross-sectional sample to analyze whether recent droughts are correlated with respondents’ experience with intimate partner violence during the last year. We then use the nine countries with repeated surveys to construct a repeated cross-section analysis at the grid level. Finally, we use event history analysis on a time series constructed from the information provided by the abused women about when the violence first took place. We find no robust evidence that droughts increase intimate partner violence. Potential explanations are that the rainfall shocks do not affect spouses’ power, or that the slow onset of the droughts allows for a calmer response to the crisis. We contribute to the wider literature on climate and conflict as many of the mechanisms, economic and psychological, that link climate to violence apply to both intimate partner violence and organized violence.

Keywords: Africa, violence, weather shocks

Topics: Domestic Violence, Environment, Climate Change, Gendered Power Relations, Violence Regions: Africa

Year: 2020

© 2023 CONSORTIUM ON GENDER, SECURITY & HUMAN RIGHTSLEGAL STATEMENT All photographs used on this site, and any materials posted on it, are the property of their respective owners, and are used by permission. Photographs: The images used on the site may not be downloaded, used, or reproduced in any way without the permission of the owner of the image. Materials: Visitors to the site are welcome to peruse the materials posted for their own research or for educational purposes. These materials, whether the property of the Consortium or of another, may only be reproduced with the permission of the owner of the material. This website contains copyrighted materials. The Consortium believes that any use of copyrighted material on this site is both permissive and in accordance with the Fair Use doctrine of 17 U.S.C. § 107. If, however, you believe that your intellectual property rights have been violated, please contact the Consortium at info@genderandsecurity.org.