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Impact of Alcohol Control Policies on the Incidence of Violent Crime, Final Report

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2001
372 pages
This study examined the effectiveness of alcohol control policies in reducing the incidence of Index I violent crime.
The research focused on policy impacts on murders, rapes, robberies, and assaults and sought to address and overcome the conceptual and empirical limitations in the existing studies of the alcohol consumption, regulation, and crime relationship. The analysis used State data for 1985-94 to estimate four models of per-capita alcohol consumption. The analyses used separate consumption equations for beer, liquor, wine, and total alcohol consumption as proxied by alcohol shipments to the State. The analyses gave particular attention to the effects of the most widely advocated alcohol control policies: excise taxes and minimum legal drinking ages. The analysis also considered the potential effects of laws regarding driving under the influence. Results revealed that the widely advocated prescription of using excise taxes as a means of mitigating the myriad adverse outcomes associated with alcohol consumption might be somewhat premature. The analysis next empirically examined the determinants of violent crime rates while controlling for deterrence factors, economic opportunities, socioeconomic and demographic factors, and alcohol consumption. Results of the regression models indicated that consumption of some types of alcoholic beverages might be an important determinant of participation in or victimization in some violent crimes and that the relationship varied across crime types. The analysis concluded that aggregating crime types or alcohol types or drawing policy conclusions from reduced-form models was inappropriate. Results also indicated that any alcohol-violence relationship was complicated and involved the circumstances, the individual characteristics, or both. Therefore, extreme caution was needed in trying to make policy-specific recommendations from studies that did not control for the complex web of factors that might influence the potential alcohol-violence relationship. Footnotes, tables, appended tables, and approximately 175 references

Date Published: September 1, 2001