Alcohol Deregulation: Does It Cause More Crime & Traffic Crashes?

Does retail alcohol deregulation increase crime and traffic accidents. This is important to the question of privatizing retail alcohol sales in states or provinces.

Does a wider selection of alcoholic beverages promote alcohol abuse? Do more retail stores lead to more traffic crashes? Do longer sales hours lead to violence? In short, does greater availability cause excessive drinking?

The Study

To study such questions, the investigator analyzed data from six Canadian provinces for an 18-year period. She compared the effects of different retail alcohol distribution systems. Did rates of per capita violent and property crimes and traffic crashes differ by level of regulation? What about heavy drinking among young people?

alcohol deregulationThere were no differences in either crimes or traffic crashes between levels of regulation. Nor did alcohol sales per capita differ. Finally, the researcher examined data from the Canadian Community Health Surveys. There were no consistent differences between levels of regulation and heavy episodic drinking (so-called binge drinking) among teens and young adults.


Sen, A. Is retail alcohol deregulation correlated with more crime and traffic injuries? Evidence from Canadian provinces. J Crimin Crim Just, 2016, 58(2), 252-286.


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