Studies cite link between booze sales, inner-city violence
Sociology professor Robert Parker says two University of California, Riverside studies link alcohol sales and violent crime.
September 28th, 2011
01:47 PM ET

Studies cite link between booze sales, inner-city violence

Two studies published this month suggest the availability of booze - and in one city, single servings of alcohol - is linked to violent crime rates.

University of California, Riverside researchers used federal crime data for offenders between the ages of 13 and 24, and then used census and economic data to determine the density of beer, wine and liquor stores in 91 major cities.

"Taking into account other factors known to contribute to youth homicide rates – such as poverty, drugs, availability of guns and gangs – the researchers found that higher densities of liquor stores, providing easy access to alcoholic beverages, contributed significantly to higher youth homicide rates," said a news release from the university.

The second study isn't so broad and doesn't deal solely with young people. It looked at San Bernardino, California, and "generally found higher rates of violent crime in neighborhoods around alcohol outlets that allot more than 10% of cooler space for single-serve containers."

Using census and business data combined with crime reports and an estimate of cooler space devoted to single-serving containers of alcohol (the latter being conducted by the county Department of Public Health), the researchers found that sales of individual servings of booze had a "modest" impact on violent crime.

"However, the researchers did find that as the percentage of cooler space devoted to single-serve containers increased, so did the crime rate," according to a news release.

The news release about both studies was forwarded to Tuesday after a piece was published on the site about "violence interrupters" being employed in cities such as Chicago and Baltimore, which are among the 91 cities cited in the first UC-Riverside study.

A University of Chicago study published in 2009 offered some unsurprising findings about the victims and perpetrators of Chicago’s gun violence. They’re often gang-affiliated minorities from low-income families. What may be more surprising is that it cited alcohol - not substance - abuse, depression, anxiety and poor grades in school as other contributing factors.

The emphasis on alcohol over substance abuse is notable because so much violence is linked to the illegal drug trade.

But the study said "analysis of data on Chicago homicides from the Illinois Violent Death Reporting System found that only 3% of victims ages 10 to 24 tested positive for recent cocaine or opiate use. In contrast, 35% of homicide victims had alcohol in their blood at the time of death, often at levels above legal thresholds defined for alcohol intoxication."

Again, that is the victims, not the perpetrators. You can read the whole report here in PDF format.

The UC-Riverside studies appeared in Drug and Alcohol Review, a publication from the Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and Other Drugs.

One of the researchers, sociology professor Robert Parker, who co-directs the Presley Center for Crime and Justice Studies, said of the findings, "These results suggest that alcohol control can be an important tool in violence prevention."

Parker was more emphatic about the San Bernardino study. Acknowledging that the research had a limited scope, Parker said communities concerned about the impact of selling single servings of alcohol should take action.

"Community interests should dictate local policy, and the potential benefits of reduced violence outweigh any potential harm that the banning or limitation of such sales would create," he said.

What's your take? Is alcohol a devil water spurring our cities to violence? Is it not a factor? Or do you think it's one of many factors contributing to the bloodshed? Let us hear your thoughts in the comment section below.

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Filed under: California • Crime • Drugs • Illinois • Maryland • U.S.
soundoff (246 Responses)
  1. Tom Mix

    this is what we get for using stimulus money to support college richard heads who couldn't hold a job otherwise.

    September 28, 2011 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
  2. keeplaughing

    well, I think it's very two side of a coin. I think there are good and behave drinkers but, I guess whats really need to be done is probably more restriction and propaganda announce on these issues. I think..

    September 28, 2011 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse |
  3. s kel

    booze and cars = safe driving.

    September 28, 2011 at 10:56 pm | Report abuse |
  4. coolblackguy

    Awww it wasn't weed, with all the money you guys spend to try and stop me from smoking and here it says the legal stuff is dangerous. On top of that there isn't one valid study that contributes the use of marijuana to any rise in violence (thats using only marijuana and no real drugs ie cocaine, meth, heroin) but so many violent or just plain stupid act involved with alcohol

    September 28, 2011 at 11:10 pm | Report abuse |
  5. aaron

    No S#it Sherlock! Bump!

    September 28, 2011 at 11:11 pm | Report abuse |
  6. HAHA

    this is an amazing breakthrough – booze sometimes leads to fights!

    September 28, 2011 at 11:48 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Boo

    Anyone who has seen Cooley High knows this.

    September 28, 2011 at 11:52 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Boo


    September 28, 2011 at 11:53 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Boo

    Tune in next week for "Study Part II: Booze Sales and Suburban Violence, Related?" Don't miss this exciting installment for the surprising answer.

    September 29, 2011 at 12:02 am | Report abuse |
  10. george

    People give booze and drugs a bad name.

    September 29, 2011 at 12:18 am | Report abuse |
  11. battergrl

    Angryblkman, why so much hate and blame against your own race? Never blame. As a blk woman(Howard Unv) it shames me to read ur posts.Ur accusations against the MAJORITY of blks r a disgrace and untrue. If u truly feel what u say is true, u need better associates/friends/family.....

    September 29, 2011 at 12:28 am | Report abuse |
  12. M in Oz

    They really funded a study to find that result? Wow.

    September 29, 2011 at 2:40 am | Report abuse |
  13. Ken Pearl

    I grew up in a poor and very violent section of NYC and now reside in a small Bavarian town. Alcohol plays a huge role in a great deal of violent confrontations. Even in my small town. This is not a study or theory, it is a simple fact! It seems that with everything else in this world authorities and so-called public servants of people will downplay such truths. Just to help the businesses who who make profit off of peoples pain and condition. Imagine a world where humanity and decency and helping our fellow man were more important then helping big business make a buck!!!!

    September 29, 2011 at 3:49 am | Report abuse |
  14. larry5

    Study links the buying of booze to people that drink alcoholic beverages. In a government sponsored study people were sold tequila. Some bottles contained actual tequila and some bottles contained distilled water. The customers that were part of the study were not told which bottle was which, therefore they could not possibly know for sure if they had tequila or water. The study proved that people that purchased the real tequila drank every ounce. The people that received the water never finished the bottles. This study proves that people that purchase tequila are likely to drink tequila. The study contained 1,000 research subjects and lasted 365 days and returned the answer they were told to find. The study was paid for by the Czar of Safer Alcohol Consumption and was funded with a $25M grant. Part of the grand, $5M was paid to a medical journal to publish a report on this study. Also the request for an additional $20M to cover budget overruns was approved. This study will go a long way to help Doctors and politicians to better understand the tequila drinker that gets stinko drunk, urinates in his pants, vomits in a taxi and falls asleep in the bathroom every night, especially if they are one of those people.

    September 29, 2011 at 5:07 am | Report abuse |
  15. yannaes

    And it took a study to figure this out? What a waste of money, again!

    September 29, 2011 at 6:00 am | Report abuse |
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