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The Effects of Alcohol Prohibition on Alcohol Consumption

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  • Jeffrey A. Miron

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Abstract

This paper examines the impact of Prohibition on alcohol consumption. Since data on both the price and quantity of alcohol are unavailable during the Prohibition period, it is not possible to estimate Prohibition's impact on either the supply or demand for alcohol. Assuming the existence of a reasonable proxy for alcohol consumption, however, it is possible to estimate the net impact of Prohibition on the equilibrium quantity of alcohol consumed. I estimate this effect under a range of assumptions about the nature of preferences, taking into account other possible determinants of alcohol consumption and the proxy series. The overall conclusion of the paper is that Prohibition exerted a modest and possibly even a positive effect on alcohol consumption. One possible interpretation of the results is that the demand for alcohol is relatively inelastic, although many earlier studies find substantial elasticity in the demand for alcohol. Another possible interpretation is that Prohibition created a forbidden fruit effect that increased preferences for alcohol, tending to offset the depressing effects of increased prices on demand. Still a third possibility is that Prohibition failed to raise alcohol prices substantially, perhaps because black markets suppliers face low marginal costs of evading government regulations and taxes. Existing data provide some support for this last possibility.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Boston University - Industry Studies Programme in its series Papers with number 0078.

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Date of creation: Jun 1997
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Handle: RePEc:fth:bostin:0078

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Postal: Boston University, Industry Studies Program; Department of Economics, 270 Bay Road, Boston, Massachusetts 02215.
Phone: 617-353-4389
Fax: 617-353-444
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Web page: http://www.bu.edu/econ/isp/
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References

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  1. Becker, Gary S & Murphy, Kevin M, 1988. "A Theory of Rational Addiction," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(4), pages 675-700, August.
  2. Whitney K. Newey & Kenneth D. West, 1986. "A Simple, Positive Semi-Definite, Heteroskedasticity and AutocorrelationConsistent Covariance Matrix," NBER Technical Working Papers 0055, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Gary S. Becker & Michael Grossman & Kevin M. Murphy, 1990. "An Empirical Analysis of Cigarette Addiction," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 61, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
  4. Manning, Willard G. & Blumberg, Linda & Moulton, Lawrence H., 1995. "The demand for alcohol: The differential response to price," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 123-148, June.
  5. Michael Grossman & Frank J. Chaloupka & Ismail Sirtalan, 1995. "An Empirical Analysis of Alcohol Addiction: Results from the Monitoring the Future Panels," NBER Working Papers 5200, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Jeffrey A. Miron & Jeffrey Zwiebel, 1995. "The Economic Case against Drug Prohibition," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(4), pages 175-192, Fall.
  7. Massimo Motta, 1996. "Advertising bans," Economics Working Papers 205, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Jan 1997.
  8. Miron, Jeffrey A & Zwiebel, Jeffrey, 1991. "Alcohol Consumption during Prohibition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(2), pages 242-47, May.
  9. Chaloupka, Frank, 1991. "Rational Addictive Behavior and Cigarette Smoking," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(4), pages 722-42, August.
  10. Michael J. Moore & Philip J. Cook, 1995. "Habit and Heterogeneity in the Youthful Demand for Alcohol," NBER Working Papers 5152, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Frank J. Chaloupka & Henry Wechsler, 1995. "The Impact of Price, Availability, and Alcohol Control Policies on Binge Drinking in College," NBER Working Papers 5319, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Angela K. Dills, 2004. "Alcohol Prohibition and Cirrhosis," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 6(2), pages 285-318.
  2. Kenneth W Clements & Yihui Lan & Xueyan Zhao, 2006. "The Demand for Vice: Inter-Commodity Interactions with Uncertainty," Economics Discussion / Working Papers 06-30, The University of Western Australia, Department of Economics.
  3. Clements, Kenneth W., 2003. "Three Facts About Marijuana Prices," 2003 Conference (47th), February 12-14, 2003, Fremantle, Australia 57846, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society.
  4. Kenneth W. Clements & Xueyan Zhao, 2005. "Economic Aspects of Marijuana," Economics Discussion / Working Papers 05-28, The University of Western Australia, Department of Economics.
  5. Klaus Abbink & Utteeyo Dasgupta & Lata Gangadharan & Tarun Jain, 2013. "Letting the Briber Go Free: An Experiment on Mitigating Harassment Bribes," Monash Economics Working Papers 62-13, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  6. Abbink, Klaus & Dasgupta, Utteeyo & Gangadharan, Lata & Jain, Tarun, 2014. "Letting the briber go free: An experiment on mitigating harassment bribes," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 111(C), pages 17-28.

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