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Impact of Alcohol Control Policies on the Incidence of Violent Crime: Summary

NCJ Number
Date Published
13 pages
Publication Series
This study examined the impacts of alcohol policies on alcohol consumption and violent crime.
The analysis developed formal theoretical models of alcohol consumption and the incidence of criminal activity on the rational offender framework characteristic of the literature on the economics of crime. 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.

Date Published: January 1, 2001