Intimate partner violence against women and the Nordic paradox

That is the title of a new and interesting paper by Enrique Garcia and Juan Merlo, here is the (to me) rather surprising summary:

The Nordic countries are the most gender equal nations in the world, but at the same time, they also have a disproportionately high rate of intimate partner violence against women. This is perplexing because logically violence against women would be expected to drop as women gained equal status in a society. A new study explores this contradictory situation, which has been labeled the ‘Nordic paradox.’

Denmark clocks in at about 32%, Finland at 30%, and Sweden at 28%; Denmark and Finland by the way should disabuse you from blaming this phenomenon on immigrants.

My first response was to think this must be a data reporting issue.  Perhaps Nordic women are more willing to step forward, or somehow those systems are more efficient in recording such complaints.  But the paper does not support that interpretation:

…the same FRA survey provides data suggesting lower levels of disclosure of IPV [intimate partner violence] to the police by women in Nordic countries as compared to other EU countries.  For example the average percentage for the EU of women indicating that the most serious incident of IPV came to the attention of the police is 20%, whereas for Denmark and Finland is 10% and 17% for Sweden.  In any case, the ‘higher disclosure’ explanation, however, would not solve the Nordic paradox, as these more ‘reliable’ levels of disclosure would rather reinforce the paradox posited by very high levels of IPV prevalence (prevalence rates around 30% is by all means disproportionate) in countries with high levels of gender equality.

So this remains a puzzle.  Here is an earlier post on a very different form of the Nordic gender equality paradox.  And here is a recent post on (non-Nordic) brutishness.

For the pointer I thank Eric Barker.


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