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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Drexel: After Privatization, Link Found Between New Liquor Establishments, Violence

A team of researchers examining the effect alcohol availability has on violence found a significant increase in violent assaults for each additional establishment with a liquor license added to the area.

Dr. Loni Philip Tabb, an assistant professor in Drexel University’s Dornsife School of Public Health, led a research team that used Seattle as a case study in examining the link between violence and alcohol. The city provided a unique opportunity to monitor changes in trends of violence in relation to alcohol since the state of Washington had just approved the complete privatization of liquor licenses in 2012. Tabb and her team were able to conduct a natural experiment, analyzing data from before and after the privatization.

What they found was that aggravated assault increased by 8 percent in areas where licenses were granted to establishments that had previously been unable to get them, such as grocery stores. These stores were termed “off-premises” outlets in the study, because consumption of the alcohol is assumed to take place away from where it was purchased.

Also significant was that even for those establishments that were historically able to acquire liquor licenses, such as bars, the addition of each new “on-premises” outlet was linked to a 5 percent average increase in aggravated assaults.

Findings by Tabb’s team were published in Spatial and Spatio-Temporal Epidemiology. Their research is particularly pertinent to other states considering alcohol privatization as a way of projecting changing violence levels that might result.

Drexel press release: