Alcohol Availability and Violence

Daikwon Han and Dennis M. Gorman

in Public Health

ISBN: 9780199756797
Published online April 2013 | | DOI:
Alcohol Availability and Violence


Empirical studies of the effects of alcohol availability on violence began to emerge in the 1980s and 1990s. These initial studies were generally ecological and cross-sectional and tended to use official crime statistics as the source of data for violence and assess alcohol availability in terms of outlet density. Also, most studies were implicitly based on the availability theory of alcohol-related problems, that is, the idea that consumption will increase as availability increases and this, in turn, will lead to a rise in both excessive drinking and alcohol-related problems. These studies were also consistent in showing an association between alcohol outlet densities and violent crime, and these associations remained once social and demographic characteristics of the geographic units of analysis (such as poverty and residential mobility) were controlled for in the data analysis. Since these early studies, considerable advances have been made in the field, especially methodologically. These advances include the use of geospatial statistical methods and space-time models, the use of longitudinal study designs, and the assessment of interventions and policy initiatives that either increase or decrease the availability of alcohol. The latter includes studies that focus on the days of sale and hours of sale of alcohol, as well as studies that focus on changes in outlet density. Also, the types of violence that have been studied have expanded beyond police reports of violent crime to include hospital admission data pertaining to assaults and injuries, social service data pertaining to child abuse and neglect and domestic violence, and self-reports of victimization. Theoretical advances have been less noticeable as this essentially empirical and methodological literature has not, for the most part, been a source of theory development and testing. Hopefully, this will change in the near future as alcohol studies researchers start to draw on ecological theories from within criminology and other social sciences in an effort to better understand the empirical association between alcohol availability and violence.

Article.  11821 words. 

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology

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