Women receiving remittances are more likely to suffer from violence: study

The study shows that there is a greater likelihood of partner violence in Mexican homes where women receive remittances.
image of a hand receving electronic money
They were also found to help empower women in certain scenarios. (Illustration: Getty Images)

A study in Mexico has provided insight into the relationship between remittances and family violence, indicating a higher incidence of partner violence in households where women receive remittances

Many theories have been proposed on the subject, one of which claims that when women receive monetary transfers, their economic influence and independence increase.

Other ideas suggest that when women receive remittances and experience an economic benefit, men turn to violence to get that money

Researchers Adán Silverio Murillo, a research professor at the School of Government and Public Transformation, and José Roberto Balmori discovered evidence through their scientific investigation that suggests an increase in partner violence as well as a correlation between the amount of remittance and the likelihood of suffering from this form of violence.

Remittances and gender violence

In their study, Remittances and Domestic Violence, the researchers examined the topic of remittances from two angles.

They investigated hypotheses claiming that increasing a woman’s economic power leads to her empowerment, as well as the increasing level of violence employed by men in their pursuit of remittance cash

As Mexico is one of the world’s biggest beneficiaries of remittances, it provided ample data for the study, specifically from 2006 to 2016. 

According to data provided by Mexico’s National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI) in 2021, more than 70% of women over the age of 15 have suffered from some type of violence.

Furthermore, according to the 2006 National Survey on the Dynamics of Relationships in Mexican Households, 26% of single women and 35% of married women or women living with partners had experienced partner violence.

According to Murillo and Balmori’s research, women who receive remittances are more likely to experience partner violence, with the possibility increasing by up to 6%

This study also examines the types of violence carried out on women receiving remittances, revealing a 6.2% rise in emotional violence, a 4.3% increase in economic violence, a 2% increase in physical violence, and a 1.5% increase in sexual violence.

What’s more, the amount of the remittance has a direct impact on the likelihood of suffering partner violence, with bigger sums of money corresponding to a higher risk of violence. 

“Through this study, we realized that the data could confirm our hypothesis. While remittances help a country’s development, we must also consider the unintended consequences,” Murillo says.

Highlights for public policy and society

Murillo highlights the presence of elements that also contribute to the escalation of violence as one of the study’s main results. 

Receiving remittances, for example, is linked to a 10.3% increase in male unemployment.

Murillo explains that the effects of remittances go beyond partner violence and affect additional social problems such as higher obesity rates and interruptions in students’ schooling. 

“This phenomenon has received little attention,” he adds, “not only in Mexico but also in other countries with high remittance volumes, such as China, India, and other Latin American countries.”

Murillo claims that they did not discover enough evidence to support the third theory, which proposes that women who get remittances increase their negotiating power, possibly leading to a decrease in partner violence. 

“I believe policymakers should take this into consideration and investigate mechanisms for remittance-receiving households, such as programs incentivizing men to work or reducing alcohol consumption, to prevent these unintended consequences of violence,” Murillo concludes.

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