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Abstract

We provide a critical review of research in economics that has examined causal relationships between alcohol use and crime. We lay out several causal pathways through which alcohol regulation and alcohol consumption may affect crime, including: direct pharmacological effects on aggression, reaction time, and motor impairment; excuse motivations; venues and social interactions; and victimization risk. We focus our review on four main types of alcohol regulations: price/tax restrictions, age-based availability restrictions, spatial availability restrictions, and temporal availability restrictions. We conclude that there is strong evidence that tax- and age-based restrictions on alcohol availability reduce crime, and we discuss implications for policy and practice.

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