Economic Insecurity and Husband-to-Wife Physical Assault in Hong Kong: The Role of Husband’s Power Motive

Adam K. L. Cheung, Susanne Y. P. Choi

Research output: Chapter in book/report/conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

Previous research demonstrates that the risk, severity, and frequency of domestic violence vary considerably across social classes. Some studies show that couples from the lower class are more likely to experience husband-to-wife violence. Prior theoretical discussions have postulated that the relationship between husband’s economic resources and husband-to-wife physical assault is explained by husband’s attempt to gain and maintain power in the relationship. However, the mediating role of husband’s power motive is seldom empirically examined. The relationship between husband’s economic resources and husband-to-wife physical assault and its mediating mechanism are not entirely clear, especially in the Chinese context.

Using couple-level data from a household survey in Hong Kong (N = 871), the current study shows that the husband’s desire to have more power in the relationship is significantly and positively associated with husband-to-wife physical assault, controlling for other relevant covariates. Meanwhile, husband’s power motive is a function of his economic insecurity. Mediation analysis shows that a couple’s income difference, the husband’s full-time employment status, and his financial stress exert significant indirect effects on the risk of violence through the husband’s power motive. Our findings are consistent with the hypotheses derived from the resource theories. Recent economic changes in Asia, which have led to rising income inequality, emerging poverty, and structural unemployment, may have played an important role in shaping family dynamics in Hong Kong. Our study calls for special attention to the increased risk of domestic violence in times of economic downturn and restructuring.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEconomic Stress, Human Capital, and Families in Asia
Subtitle of host publicationResearch and Policy Challenges
PublisherSpringer
Edition1
ISBN (Electronic)9789400773868
ISBN (Print)9789400773851, 9789401778428
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Publication series

NameQuality of Life in Asia

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