Abi Adams-Prassl leads research into violence against women in the workplace

The #MeToo movement demonstrated that violence between colleagues is an internationally relevant phenomenon. Many accounts were characterised by high-profile men in positions of power assaulting female subordinates, with few repercussions.

Until now, there has been little representative empirical research on the impacts of workplace related violence on perpetrators, victims, and the wider workforce. Due to data limitations, this literature has been unable to identify the consequences that perpetrators of violence face for assaulting a colleague nor the impacts on the broader firm and the role of management. Is it only the rich and powerful who go unpunished, or do unremarkable managers in nondescript offices also enjoy less severe consequences if they assault a subordinate?

Professor Abi Adams-Prassl along with co-authors Kristiina Huttunen Emily Nix and Ning Zhang – has carried out new research on violence at work in which they used every police report in Finland to identify assaults between colleagues, and identify the economic consequences of violence for victims, perpetrators, and firms. The research found important differences in the labour market consequences of violence depending on the gender of the victim. Male perpetrators experience substantially weaker consequences after attacking women compared to men. Perpetrators' economic power in male-female violence partly explains this asymmetry. Male-female violence causes a decline in women at the firm. There is no change in within-network hiring, ruling out supply-side explanations via "whisper networks". Only male-managed firms lose women. Female managers do one important thing differently: fire perpetrators.


Read the working paper here


Media impact: This research has led to an interview with Tim Williams in September 2022 for the CEPR podcast a discussion article in the Economist 'Tackling sexual harassment could bring sizeable economic dividends' and this article by Sarah O'Connor in the Financial Times 'It’s not always the perpetrator who pays for sexual harassment at work'.


Register for Abi's 'What Economists really do' talk on this subject, taking place on International Women's Day (8th March)