NCVS biased relative to NEISS in reporting domestic violence

face of a prisoner

The U.S. Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) provides nationally representative estimates of violent victimizations by the relation of the victim to the perpetrator. NCVS is used in important Department of Justice victimization publications concerning intimate partner violence, domestic violence, and violence between strangers. As a high-quality, nationally representative, government-administered survey that has served broad public interests for decades, NCVS is more credible than surveys serving much narrower interests. However, NCVS data on intimate partner violence and domestic violence appears to have serious weaknesses relative to the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) All-Injury Program’s larger, more direct surveys of injuries resulting in hospital emergency department visits.

Relative to NEISS data on hospital emergency department visits due to domestic violence, NCVS reports:

  • a much higher share of domestic-violence victimizations of females relative to domestic-violence victimizations of males
  • NCVS-reported domestic-violence victimizations of men are biased toward more serious victimizations (victimizations other than simple assault)

Detailed comparison data: intimate-partner violence by sex: NCVS vs. NEISS

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