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This module examines the impact of the COVID–19 pandemic on the risk of experiencing domestic violence. 

Lecture: Welcome Video

This module examines the impact of the COVID19 pandemic on the risk of experiencing domestic violence. The first session introduces the topic and explains the various channels through which the pandemic can give rise to a greater incidence of domestic violence. This includes the additional spent time with potential perpetrators, the worsening labor market conditions, and the deterioration in mental health of individuals. The second session provides a more researchfocused attention to the same question, focusing more on the United States. It examines the impact of stayathome orders issued by states at different points in time on the risk of experiencing domestic violence. We consider police calls for domestic violence and Google searches for domestic violence hotline. We also provide a detailed account of the project through interviews with my coauthors and research assistants.


  1. Reading: Alisha Haridasani Gupta and Aviva Stahl, “For Abused Women, a Pandemic Lockdown Holds Dangers of Its Own,” The New York Times
  2. Reading: Caroline BradburyJones, “The Pandemic Paradox: The Consequences of COVID19 on Domestic Violence,” Journal of Clinical Nursing
  3. Video: The Economic Impacts of COVID-19: Real-time Evidence from Private Sector Data
  4. Video: What It’s Like Working Domestic Abuse Hotline During Pandemic”
  5. Video: “Protecting Children From Violence In A Pandemic”
  6. Questions to Consider:
  • Why might stayathome orders give rise to a greater risk of experiencing domestic violence?
  • How would deterioration in mental health of individuals contribute to increases in domestic violence?
  • What were the labor market impacts of the pandemic, and why do they matter for domestic violence?
  • How do domestic violence hotlines respond during the Covid19 crisis?
  • Why are children in danger of abuse during the pandemic?


  1. Reading: Amber Peterman, Megan O’Donnell, and Tia Palermo, “COVID19 and Violence against Women and Children: What Have We Learned So Far?,” The Center for Global Development Note
  2. Reading: Saravana Ravindran and Manisha Shah, “Unintended Consequences of Lockdowns: COVID19 and the Shadow Pandemic,” National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper 
  3. Interview: Pinar Keskin, Associate Professor of Economics, Wellesley College
  4. Interview: Covid and Domestic Violence Research Assistants
  5. Video: “When “Stay at Home” Isn’t Safe: Domestic Violence during COVID19”
  6. Video: “Presentation of Preliminary Findings
  7. Questions to Consider:
  • Why is domestic violence in the U.S. a pressing social, economic, and health problem?
  • What are the trends in domestic violence calls to the police in 2020 compared to 2019? Where do we observe a significant break from the previous year, and why?
  • How does the decline in mobility of individuals driven partly by shelterinplace orders affect the domestic violence calls and Google searches for domestic violence?
  • Why might Hispanics and foreignborn individuals experience a higher risk of domestic violence during the pandemic?
  • How is it possible to get involved in research projects at Northeastern?
  • What would you learn from working as a research assistant with a professor at Northeastern?

The goal in this assignment is to use Google trends data to examine the time trends in searches related to domestic violence in different regions across the United States. More specifically, go to Google trends website at and search for “domestic violence hotline”. Victims of domestic violence may search for this phrase to reach the contact information of the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

In the top panel, you will see the time trend for searches of “domestic violence hotline” for the U.S as a whole. Download this data by clicking on the csv file link on the top of this figure, and save it.

In the bottom panel, you will see the geographic variation across states in the U.S. Select three states from this panel, and click on each of them separately. Then click on the cvs link on top of each figure shown for each state, and download the data.

Using the data you downloaded, make a figure that plots the U.S. average together with the averages for the three states you downloaded. Then search for the dates of first shelterinplace order for each state, and put these dates as vertical lines on your graph. Explain in writing what you see in these time trends. Do shelterinplace orders appear to be related to these searches for “domestic violence hotline”? How do the searches for each state compare to the U.S. average? Prepare an essay of 2 pages long.

For a more advanced exercise, write an R code that downloads all of the data for each designated market area in the United States. Merge this with the dates of shelterinplace orders, and run a differenceindifference specification to estimate the relationship between these orders and searches for “domestic violence hotline”.