Sunday Liquor Laws and Crime

Published in: Journal of Public Economics, v. 96, nos. 1-2, Feb. 2012, p. 42-52

Posted on RAND.org on February 01, 2012

by Paul Heaton

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Many jurisdictions have considered relaxing Sunday alcohol sale restrictions, yet such restrictions' effects on public health remain poorly understood. This paper analyzes the effects of legalization of Sunday packaged liquor sales on crime, focusing on the phased introduction of such sales in Virginia beginning in 2004. Differences-in-differences and triple-difference estimates indicate the liberalization increased minor crime by 5% and alcohol-involved serious crime by 10%. The law change did not affect domestic crime or induce significant geographic or inter-temporal crime displacement. The costs of this additional crime are comparable to the state's revenues from increased liquor sales.

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