Professors reveal costs of domestic violence in North Carolina

The statistics are startling: 1 in 4 women will be a victim of domestic violence at some point in her life in America.  On average, 3 women are killed by a current or former intimate partner every day. While the emotional devastation of domestic violence on victims and their families is incalculable, a new study by researchers at UNC Charlotte attempts to quantify the hard costs.

The research, featured in the Charlotte Observer, reveals a staggering $307 million annual price tag for domestic violence in North Carolina.

To put this figure into perspective, the economic toll of domestic violence in North Carolina every year is approximately one-third of what the state spent in the aftermath of Hurricane Hugo.

Steve Billings“Our study illustrates the range of impacts - both private and public - as well as the prevalence of domestic violence in North Carolina,” says Stephen Billings, associate professor of economics in the UNC Charlotte Belk College of Business. He co-chaired the study with Jennifer Troyer, professor of economics in the Belk College of Business.

“Domestic violence places a significant economic burden on individual victims and society. Unfortunately, current published data on the economic impact of domestic violence are limited, dated, and often fail to reflect the full range of costs. The data also provide no local estimates on the cost of domestic violence to North Carolina residents,” said Troyer.

To address this issue, the eNOugh Campaign, a program of the Jamie Kimble Foundation for Courage, partnered with professors from the Economics Department of the Belk College of Business at UNC Charlotte to estimate the annual economic impact of domestic violence for the state of North Carolina, with funding provided by Wells Fargo. Analyzing information from government surveys, government data, and academic studies, the researchers estimate that 157,193 adult North Carolinians (1.6%) are victims of domestic violence every year. Domestic violence costs North Carolina approximately $307,856,298 ($32.26 per resident) every year. The results do not include the unreported costs of social services and costs related to children, which would drive the actual number much higher, the researchers say.

Jennifer TroyerThe breakdown by cost category of the overall economic burden is:
• Value of loss of life from homicide: $42,830,534 (13.9%)
• Value of loss of work productivity: $8,936,865 (2.9%)
• Physical health care costs: $123,868,070 (40.2%)
• Mental healthcare costs: $57,139,656 (18.6%)
• Value of lost property: $7,106,696 (2.3%)
• Police costs: $4,359,498 (1.4%)
• Court costs: $38,674,122 (12.6%)
• Incarceration costs: $24,940,844 (8.1%)
TOTAL $307,856,298

Last year, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police received over 36,000 domestic calls and local domestic violence programs fielded over 15,000 calls.

“This research matters because of the prevalence of domestic violence across socio-economic groups as well as geographical areas and the lack of quantification of this issue,” Billings said. “Our recommendations are to formalize a system for better tracking of domestic violence at the local level through 911 calls and/or the domestic violence hotline so that we can track and reduce the incidents.”

“The Jamie Kimble Foundation for Courage commissioned this study as a way to put some numbers around the real economic impact of domestic violence in North Carolina and to alert taxpayers, employers and health care professionals about the real dollars being spent on this public health issue,” says Jill Dinwiddie, board member of the Jamie Kimble Foundation for Courage and co-creator of the eNOugh campaign to end domestic violence in North Carolina. “We want the public to know how important it is to take steps to change the culture of abuse. Addressing this problem on the front end is essential and the only way to convince public and private funders of this is to make public what is currently being spent.”

Underwritten by the Wells Fargo Foundation, this first-ever report of its kind in North Carolina is being published during National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

“Wells Fargo wants to be involved in bringing attention to the actual community impacts of domestic violence,” says Jay Everette, Community Affairs Manager of Wells Fargo Foundation. “This study is a first step in painting the picture - the financial magnitude of tax-payer and private costs related to domestic violence - and we encourage more research and community dialogue to invest in prevention and education efforts.”

Download the UNC Charlotte economics study on the cost of domestic violence in North Carolina

Media coverage:

The Charlotte Observer

Time Warner Cable News - Channel 14 Charlotte


Belk College of Business media contact: Kirsten Khire, Executive Director of External Relations, Belk College of Business,, 704-885-4134

The Belk College of Business at UNC Charlotte is North Carolina’s urban research business school. Accredited by AACSB International, the Belk College of Business offers outstanding business education at the undergraduate, master’s and doctoral levels, along with executive education. With more than 3,100 undergraduate students, 700 graduate students, 87 faculty members and more than 26,000 alumni, the Belk College of Business is Charlotte’s leader in business education, research, employable talent and professional development. For more information, visit


Research: Price to state is more than $300 million per year
Date Published: 
Friday, October 24, 2014