More Alcohol Sales Outlets Lead to More Violence in Neighborhoods
Using alcohol licensing data and crime statistics from Cincinnati, Ohio, two Indiana University professors, William Alex Pridemore of the Department of Criminal Justice and Tony Grubesic of the Department of Geography, found that off-premise outlets seemed to be responsible for one in four simple assaults and one in three aggravated assaults.
Pridemore said that a higher density of places to buy alcohol equates to easier access to alcohol for residents, and notes that convenience stores that sell alcohol are especially troubling as they often serve as sources of alcohol and as local gathering places with little formal control.
The researchers found that adding one off-premise alcohol sales site per square miles may lead to 2.3 more simple assaults and 0.6 more aggravated assaults per square mile. Adding one restaurant per square mile would increase simple assaults by 1.15 percent per square mile, and adding one bar would increase simple assaults by 1.35 percent per square mile.
This means that by removing alcohol outlets, about a quarter of simple assaults and nearly one-third of aggravated assaults could be prevented.
For the study, the researchers looked at 302 groups of 1,000 residents across Cincinnati using data from the Census Bureau. The Cincinnati Police Department provided crime statistics that showed 2,290 simple assaults and 479 serious assaults occurring between January and June of 2008. The researchers geocoded the events, showing the exact location of the crime. They then used the same techniques to spatially aggregate the city’s 683 alcohol sales outlets into the groups of 1,000. The average number of assaults was 69 per square mile, and the average density of alcohol outlets was 20 per square mile.
Pridemore said that these results should encourage further studies on the association between alcohol, violence, and other negative consequences in communities, and Grubesis noted that alcohol outlet density can be changed, unlike other negative neighborhood characteristics.
Source: Science Daily, More Alcohol Sales Sites Mean More Neighborhood Violence, New Research Finds, February 22, 2010