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Economic costs

Last edited: June 05, 2020

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Research at various levels has quantified the economic costs associated with violence and harassment against women in the world of work. At the global level, the cost of violence against women (public, private and social) has been estimated at approximately US$1.5 trillion; this is about the size of the Canadian economy (UN Women, 2016b). Violence against women, in some countries, is estimated to cost up to 3.7 per cent of their gross domestic product, which is more than double what the majority of governments spend on education (World Bank, 2018). An example at the country level is the cost of sexual harassment in the Cambodian garment sector, which is estimated to be US$89 million per year (CARE International, 2017b).

In addition, domestic violence has a significant cost for employers and the economy overall, amounting to billions of dollars in many countries. Estimates show the high cost of domestic violence, in terms of lost economic output and productivity, sickness, absenteeism and lost jobs, as set out in Table 2.

Table 2: Estimated cost of domestic violence, intimate partner violence or family violence

Australia

It is estimated that violence against women, including when occurring in private life, is estimated to cost $13.6 billion per year, of which $465 million is borne by employers (Powell, Sandy and Findling, 2015).

Bolivia

It is estimated that companies lose approximately US$2 billion a year due to impact of intimate partner violence (Vara-Horna, 2015).

Canada

Spousal violence produced a total estimated economic cost of $7.4 billion in 2009 (Zhang, Hoddenbagh, McDonald and Scrim, 2012).

Egypt

Married women are estimated to lose nearly 500,000 working days a year due to marital violence (United Nations, 2017).

New Zealand

Family violence is estimated to cost $368 million per year due to lost productivity, stress and staff turnover (New Zealand Government, 2018).

Peru

It is estimated that 70 million working days are lost in Peru, because of violence against women, leading to an annual loss of more than 6.7 billion US dollars (Vara-Horna, 2014).

United Kingdom

Domestic violence cost around £16 billion in 2008, including services, lost economic output, and human and emotional costs (Walby, 2009).

United States

Data for 1995 estimate that victims of severe intimate partner violence lost “a total of nearly 8.0 million days of paid work – the equivalent of more than 32,000 full-time jobs – and nearly 5.6 million days of household productivity as a result of the violence.” (National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, 2003, p.1)

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