Violence Against Women Costs $500 Billion A Year

Photo: Getty Images.
Unfortunately, we're all too aware of the terrible emotional toll of violence against women. But a new study shows that there's also a tremendous financial cost.

On Thursday, researchers at the McKinsey Global Institute released a study showing that violence against women (including sexual assault) does more than create physical and psychological damage; it also hurts women’s economic potential.

Researchers found that violence against women in the U.S. results in a whopping $4.9 billion in direct costs. That figure includes medical costs (70% of the total), lost productivity (15%), and lost earnings over women's lifetimes (15%). "If we were to take into account estimates of the cost of pain, suffering, and stunted quality of life, too, the total toll could be some $500 billion," the study says.

McKinsey shows that rates of violence against women decline as household income increases. The study also estimates that more than 95% of violent incidents happened in households with incomes of less than $75,000. Rates of violence in the lowest-income households are almost 15 times higher than in those with the highest incomes.

Even more devastating: About 70% of initial violent incidents happen to young women between the ages of 11 and 24.

The good news? These figures suggest that economic development, along with preventative education for girls and boys, could be a major factor in combating future violence against women. In the meantime, we can all take steps to support survivors of domestic violence and push for change.

More from Work & Money


R29 Original Series