Research

The Social Cohesion Radar

As a member of the Social Cohesion Radar team at Jacobs University Bremen, I primarily contributed to two research projects on social cohesion. The first involved the measurement and comparison of social cohesion using secondary data in 22 South and Southeast Asian countries, applying a previously developed concept of social cohesion containing nine different dimensions. The second project measured social cohesion at a much smaller level, namely within 78 sub-districts in the city of Bremen, Germany. For this, we conducted a telephone survey with Bremen residents in the fall of 2015. Results regarding levels, trends, and factors related to social cohesion with be released late 2016 and early 2017. I also served as a consultant for the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), creating a Social Cohesion Index for a World Bank and Aga Khan Foundation project in the Kyrgyz Republic.

Funded by the Bertelsmann Stiftung in Gütersloh, Germany. (2015 – 2016)

Key Publications and Presentations:

Arant R., Larsen M. & Boehnke K. (2016). Sozialer Zusammenhalt in Bremen. Gütersloh: Bertelsmann Stiftung. (pdf)

Larsen M and Boehnke K (2016). Measuring Social Cohesion in the Kyrgyz Republic: The Social Cohesion Index. University of Central Asia’s Institute of Public Policy and Administration Working Paper No. 37, Bishkek. (pdf)

Larsen M. (April, 2016) “Measuring social cohesion in the Kyrgyz Republic using the Social Cohesion Index.” The 2016 Stockholm Forum on Security and Development, Stockholm, Sweden.

Larsen M. (February, 2016) “Measuring social cohesion in Kyrgyzstan: The Social Cohesion Index.” Progress Workshop on the Social Cohesion Through Community-Based Development Project, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

Boehnke K, Delhey J, Arant R, Dragolov D, Ignácz Z, Koch M, Larsen M, Lorenz J, van der Noll J & Schiefer D. (November, 2015) “Measuring social cohesion throughout the world and at home.” BIGSSS Field B Colloquium, Bremen, Germany.

Health inequities related to intimate partner violence against women: The role of social policy in the US, Germany, and Norway

The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified violence against women as a major source of health inequalities, and has called for research investigating the relationships between violence and economic inequality, weak social safety nets, and poverty. In my doctoral research, I analyzed the role of social policy in generating the health inequities experienced by survivors of intimate partner violence (IPV) through the mechanisms of differential exposure to IPV and differential vulnerability to poor health. Combining theory and empirical evidence related to the occurrence of IPV, as well as the welfare state’s impact on both women and health outcomes, I ask the following research questions: (1) To what extent does social position impact IPV exposure? (2) Are women with IPV exposure more vulnerable to social position’s impact on health outcomes? (3) Is social position’s impact on IPV exposure reflective of national family policies? And finally, (4) are the vulnerabilities to social position’s impact on health reflective of national health policies?

To answer these questions, I compare the United States, Germany, and Norway as cases with diverse social policy contexts. Nationally representative data sets on the prevalence of violence against women in each country are used to fit multivariate regression models predicting IPV exposure and health outcomes: the US’s National Violence Against Women Survey (1995-1996), the Health, Well-being, and Safety of Women in Germany Survey (2003-2004), and Norway’s Survey of Everyday Safety (2003-2004). Taken together, my results provide evidence of social gradients in IPV exposure across all three countries, and vulnerability to poor self-assessed health for IPV survivors with low household income in the US. These empirical results were explored against the social and policy context of each country, guiding conclusions regarding the relationship between policy and health outcomes. My research suggests that encouraging women’s economic independence and ensuring access to health care are vital policy intervention points for reducing the health inequities of IPV survivors.

Funded through a Doctoral Fellowship from the Bremen International Graduate School of Social Sciences, supported by the German Research Foundation’s (DFG’s) Excellence Initiative. (2010 – 2014)

Key Publications and Presentations:

Larsen, M. (2016). Health inequities related to intimate partner violence against women: The role of social policy in the US, Germany, and Norway. Social Disparities in Health and Health Care Series edited by R. J. Angel and W. Avison. Springer International Publishing. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-29565-7

Larsen M & Brzank P. (May, 2015) “Socioeconomic resources, IPV exposure, and self-assessed health in the US, Germany, and Norway.” Young Scholars Meeting of the Annual Conference of the European Network on Gender and Violence, Lisbon, Portugal.

Larsen M (April, 2014). “Linking welfare state policy to socioeconomic status and intimate partner violence: A comparison of the US, Germany, and Norway.” Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the European Network on Gender and Violence, Valletta, Malta.

Larsen M & Brzank P (November, 2013). “The welfare state impact on social inequalities in health for women with histories of intimate partner violence in the US and Norway.” Paper presented at the 6th European Public Health Conference, Brussels, Belgium.

Larsen M (August, 2013). “A comparative framework for identifying welfare policy interventions to reduce health inequities among survivors of intimate partner violence.” Paper presented at the International Conference on Interpersonal Violence Interventions – Social and Cultural Perspectives, Jyväskylä, Finland.

Larsen M (September, 2012). “An international comparison of the relationships between social position, intimate partner violence exposure, and health outcomes.” Paper presented at the Joint Congress of the European Society of Health and Medical Sociology and the German Society of Medical Sociology, Hanover, Germany.

IPV Survivors Experiences with Health and Healthcare in Germany

Through qualitative interviews with six female survivors of intimate partner violence (IPV) in Hamburg, we explored their experiences with health and health care within the context of a universal access health system. Using phenomenological analysis, we learned that they: (1) view violence as a burden on health; (2) expect health professionals to acknowledge the link between IPV and health with empathy; and (3) experience barriers to acute mental health services despite a lack of financial barriers in seeking treatment.

Taken together, the results of this study confirm the need for the German health care system to recognize all of the contributing elements to overall health for women exposed to partner violence. Moreover, improved access to acute mental health treatment should be prioritized. Additionally, we demonstrate the important role of health care in supporting women in Germany exposed to partner violence, with the potential for it to validate women’s experiences and appropriately link survivors to additional sources of support.

Funded through a German Chancellor Fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. (2008 – 2010)

Key Publications and Presentations:

Larsen M, Krohn J, Püschel, K, & Seifert D (2014). Experiences of health and health care among women exposed to intimate partner violence: Qualitative findings from Germany. Health Care for Women International, 35(4): 359-379.

Larsen M, Krohn J, Püschel K, & Seifert D (August, 2013) “Experiences of health and health care among women exposed to intimate partner violence: Qualitative findings from Germany.” Poster presented at the International Conference on Interpersonal Violence Interventions – Social and Cultural Perspectives, Jyväskylä, Finland.

Larsen M, Krohn J, Püschel K, & Seifert D (May, 2010). “Gesundheit und Behandlung: Erfahrungen und Bedürfnisse der Opfer von Partnergewalt in Hamburg [Health and treatment: Experiences and needs of victims of partner violence in Hamburg].” Paper presented at the 19th Spring Conference of the German Society of Forensic Medicine – North Region, Gießen, Germany.