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. sam

    Now it pays pennies in Taxes,It is served everywhere with kids present,BUT NO SMOKING CIGARETTES,But You CAN SMOKE DOPE...........Oh my Goodness

    September 28, 2011 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
  2. sam


    September 28, 2011 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Aaron

    This study, while I am glad that it was conducted, fails to recognize that many of these factors: poor grades, alcohol abuse, etc... are the RESULT of living in a violent community. Not the cause. It is clear that none of the people who conducted this study have ever lived in a community that threatened their existence. When that happens, your priorities shift very quickly and you look for ways to cope.

    September 28, 2011 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • WagTheDog

      Which came first, the chicken or the egg????

      September 28, 2011 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • My thoughts's the result of PARENTS having CHILDREN before the parents are educated and financially ready to support a family!

      September 28, 2011 at 9:13 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jim

    Alcohol abuse is pretty common in the suburbs, too, but violent crime is uncommon there. This story is just another attempt by the pc popular media to blame inner-city animality on factors external to inner-city animals. It's poverty, or drugs and alcohol, or low self esteem, or "structural racism," or "urban rage syndrome," or mean people like me, or whatever. One day soon, the liberal media will throw a blame yt party, and no one will show up.

    September 28, 2011 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • prayedUp

      all those examples are something im sure youve never been exposed too. until you're in that situation your opinion is ignorant

      September 28, 2011 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
  5. R

    Makes one glad not to live in the inner city!

    September 28, 2011 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
  6. r.ortiz

    liquer stores should limit the time that they stay open, that way under age individuals will not have access to alcohol,especially during the nigth times.

    September 28, 2011 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Bill from OHIO

    I'm so very happy my tax dollars are so hard at work funding this study! I NEVER would have suspected that alchohol and violence were linked. Hmmm... Kudos to all the scientists involved for uncoving this new and exciting devolpment... I wonder if they'll do a study on crack next?

    September 28, 2011 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike from New York

      If you read the article, you would have noticed that the study itself does not mention its funding source. The researchers used federal CRIME data among other data sources. As for why the researchers are conducting this, who cares? What would you rather they research? Fantasy football statistics? As for your tax dollars, you might have noticed that the study was conducted by state schools in California. Your dollars should be safe in Ohio where I am sure they will be invested in an Ohio State stadium or some coach's salary who makes more than the university's president.

      September 28, 2011 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • My thoughts thoughts EXACTLY!

      September 28, 2011 at 9:15 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Bnjmn375

    Studies like these have been around forever, and was one of the main arguments for prohibition in the early 20th century, The only problem of course was that we discovered that making alcohol illegal caused even worse problems. Learn from history, tackle the problems that cause people to drink not the booze itself.

    September 28, 2011 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
  9. e kalb

    Soooo they got money to study this? Where do I sign up? So drunk people run slower and are easier victims of homicide? Alcohol leads to domestic violence and family upheaval? Get outta town!come to MY town where that's just daily living. I know people who will DIE for booze.know one dying right now.

    September 28, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Zakir

      I've been nursing my duheatgr for almost 13 months, and I've always been very relaxed about what I eat/drink. She's never had a drop of formula and she is one of the healthiest babies I've ever seen! Hits all her milestones ahead of target. And since the day after she was born, I've had coffee every day, a glass of wine most nights, and probably a little too much junk food. I do try to avoid pesticides and load up on Omega-3 s (I even take a supplement designed for nursing mothers), but that's it. Being uptight about your nursing diet will just make it that much harder to breastfeed, which is NOT what babies need!!

      March 14, 2012 at 11:03 pm | Report abuse |
  10. FDD

    is that a new fact?

    September 28, 2011 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Pauld

    Maybe it is because of the Persian ghost soccer player in the photo

    September 28, 2011 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Ed

    George Bush was an alcoholic, must be his fault.

    September 28, 2011 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse |
  13. smartfool

    Lets find ANOTHER thing to blame for people's poor behavior. Drugs, economy, guns, booze, education. Why don't we just say nothing is anyone's fault period. Open all the jails and declare that people have no responsibility because they can't control themselves..... i hope anyone who reads this understands sarcasm.

    September 28, 2011 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Oloieriu

      I hear what you are sying and I know its right but I am a neurotic othmer. I cut out alcohol completely and switched to decaf tea when I was pregnant and am continuing that while nursing. I also take a herbal supplement (goat's rue), a multi-vitamin, pre and probiotic drinks, I avoid peanuts and eat two bowls of porridge (oatmeal in the US I believe) as well as trying to eat generally a bit healthy. I had a really bad time starting out, lots of bad advice from various professionals and my baby wasn't gaining as much weight as he should have and so I have been trying everything I can to get breastfeeding to work. He's now doing so much better, gaining about a pound every 4 weeks and I'm scared to stop in case any of them were the clincher.

      March 15, 2012 at 12:24 am | Report abuse |
  14. Kim

    Ya think? Alcohol is a drug just like any other addictive drug. And it's cheap, so ya, don't think it takes a genius to figure this one out.

    September 28, 2011 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
  15. zechmo

    Every person has control over his or her actions, if they want more they will get out of poverty, and whatever else is bringing them to the point of being a alcoholic... Ur study is irrelevant...

    People choose everything in life .... Blame the people not the liquor stores ...blame the parents

    September 28, 2011 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
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