Most studies explain domestic violence in terms of intra-personal and/or interpersonal variables, without considering the effects of socio-structural conditions on behavior. The purpose of this study is to examine the effects of women's status and social disorganization in a city on rates of domestic violence. The data used was primarily archived data from 93 major U.S. cities from 1980-1990 contained in the Urban Underclass Data set. Some additional data was gathered from the U.S. Census and from legal handbooks. Two indexes were created that measured structural characteristics of cities. A Women's Equality Index consisted of economic equality variables and legal equality variables. The Social Disorganization Index contained variables such as the percentage of the population that lived in a different area 5 years ago, the percentage of children living in single headed households, and the percentage of divorced individuals. An inverse relationship between women's equality and rates of domestic violence was found. There was a slight positive correlation between scores on the social disorganization index and rates of domestic violence. Overall, women's equality was determined to be a better predictor of rates of domestic violence than social disorganization. These initial results are encouraging and future studies with better measures of domestic violence and smaller units of analysis are recommended.


Fitz Gibbon, Heather

Second Advisor

Burnell, James


Urban Studies

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis

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© Copyright 1997 Mary J. Fischer