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Swedish Institute for Social Research, Stockholm University Working Paper Series, Swedish Institute for Social Research, Stockholm University

No 9/2011:
Alcohol Availability and Crime: Lessons from Liberalized Weekend Sales Restrictions

Hans Grönqvist () and Susan Niknami ()

Abstract: In February 2000, the Swedish state monopoly alcohol retail company launched a large scale experiment in which all stores in selected counties were allowed to keep open on Saturdays. We assess the effects on crime of this expansion in access to alcohol. To isolate the impact of the experiment from other factors, we compare conviction rates in age cohorts above and below the national drinking age restriction in counties where the experiment had been implemented, and contrast these differences to those in counties that still prohibited weekend alcohol commerce. Our analysis relies on extensive individual conviction data that have been merged to population registers. After demonstrating that Saturday opening of alcohol shops significantly raised alcohol sales, we show that it also increased crime. The increase is confined to crimes committed on Saturdays and is driven by illegal activity among individuals with low ability and among persons with fathers that have completed at least some secondary education. Although the increases in crime and alcohol sales were slightly higher during the initial phase of the experiment, our evidence suggests that both effects persist over time. Our analysis reveals that the social costs linked to the experiment exceed the monetary benefits.

Keywords: Delinquency; Alcohol laws; Substance use; (follow links to similar papers)

JEL-Codes: K42; (follow links to similar papers)

44 pages, August 2, 2011

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