Bars, Brawls, and Blocks: The Relationship Between Alcohol Sales and Assaults

Dennis W. Roncek, University of Nebraska at Omaha
Rebecca K. Murray, University of Nebraska at Omaha

We examine the effects of bars, and other alcohol-selling business on felonious assaults for the city blocks of a midsized Midwestern City. This research extends previous work by Roncek and that by Costanza et al. The effects of alcohol-selling businesses are controlled for relevant socio-demographic and housing characteristics. The bar effects examined include not only effects on the city blocks on which they are located, but also diffusion effects to areas adjacent to the bars. To help identify if the effects of bars or taverns are due to their distinctive social climates rather than merely to the availability of alcohol, we control for the presence of other alcohol-selling establishments. The number of other businesses such as restaurants, fraternal organizations, sports arenas that sell alcoholic beverages for consumption on-site and the number of businesses that sell these for consumption elswhere are additional control variables. We find that: (1) bars have a significant effect on the number of assaults; (2) bars have a statistically significant diffusion effect; (3) that other on-site businesses have no effects, but (4) that the offsite alcohol-sale business do.

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Updated 05/20/2006