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Study Links Alcohol Stores and Violent Crime


September 1995

A study in the American Journal of Public Health associates the concentration of alcohol stores in an area with the number of violent assaults (Richard A. Scribner MD, MPH, David P. MacKinnon, PhD, and James H. Dwyer, PhD, "The Risk of Assaultive Violence and Alcohol Availability in Los Angeles County," American Journal of Public Health, Mar. 1995, vol. 85, no. 3, p. 335-340; John Pope, "Liquor Stores, Crime, Are Linked in New Study," Cleveland Plain Dealer, Mar. 30, 1995, p. 5A).

Researchers charted the incidence of murder, rape, robbery, and assault per capita against the density of alcohol outlets in 74 cities in Los Angeles County in 1990. They found that the total density of alcohol outlets was "most strongly related" to the rate of such violent assaults, trying to control for unemployment rates, ethnic/racial composition, income, age, population, household size, or the number of female-headed households, which are also associated with variation in the rates of violent incidents.

In a typical city of 50,000 people with 100 liquor outlets and 570 incidents of assaultive violence, for example, one more outlet (bar, restaurant, minimarket, liquor store) will be associated with 3.4 more incidents, or a 0.62% ±0.14% increase in the rate of violent offenses, in 1990.