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Sunday liquor laws and crime


  • Heaton, Paul


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.

Suggested Citation

  • Heaton, Paul, 2012. "Sunday liquor laws and crime," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(1), pages 42-52.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:96:y:2012:i:1:p:42-52 DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2011.08.002

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Anderson, D. Mark & Crost, Benjamin & Rees, Daniel I., 2014. "Wet Laws, Drinking Establishments, and Violent Crime," IZA Discussion Papers 8718, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Grönqvist, Hans & Niknami, Susan, 2014. "Alcohol availability and crime: Lessons from liberalized weekend sales restrictions," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(C), pages 77-84.
    3. Marcus, Jan & Siedler, Thomas, 2015. "Reducing binge drinking? The effect of a ban on late-night off-premise alcohol sales on alcohol-related hospital stays in Germany," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 123(C), pages 55-77.
    4. Jeff Thurk, 2015. "Measuring the Unequal Implications of One Size Fits All Regulation," 2015 Meeting Papers 1251, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    5. Miravete, Eugenio J & Seim, Katja & Thurk, Jeff, 2013. "Complexity, Efficiency, and Fairness of Multi-Product Monopoly Pricing," CEPR Discussion Papers 9641, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    6. B. Douglas Bernheim & Jonathan Meer & Neva K. Novarro, 2012. "Do Consumers Exploit Precommitment Opportunities? Evidence from Natural Experiments Involving Liquor Consumption," NBER Working Papers 17762, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Nicholas W. Papageorge & Gwyn C. Pauley & Mardge Cohen & Tracey E. Wilson & Barton H. Hamilton & Robert A. Pollak, 2017. "Health, Human Capital and Domestic Violence," Working Papers 2017-013, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
    8. B. Douglas Bernheim & Jonathan Meer & Neva K. Novarro, 2016. "Do Consumers Exploit Commitment Opportunities? Evidence from Natural Experiments Involving Liquor Consumption," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 8(4), pages 41-69, November.
    9. Jennings, Wesley G. & Piquero, Alex R. & Rocque, Michael & Farrington, David P., 2015. "The effects of binge and problem drinking on problem behavior and adjustment over the life course: Findings from the Cambridge Study in Delinquent Development," Journal of Criminal Justice, Elsevier, vol. 43(6), pages 453-463.
    10. Louis-Philippe Beland & Daniel A. Brent, 2017. "Traffic and Crime," Departmental Working Papers 2017-02, Department of Economics, Louisiana State University.
    11. Nicholas W. Papageorge & Gwyn C. Pauley & Mardge Cohen & Tracey E. Wilson & Barton H. Hamilton & Robert A. Pollak, 2016. "Health, Human Capital and Domestic Violence," NBER Working Papers 22887, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Jungtaek Lee & Baris K. Yörük, 2014. "Does Legalization of Sunday Alcohol Sales Increase Crime?," CESifo Working Paper Series 5065, CESifo Group Munich.
    13. Green, Colin P. & Heywood, John. S. & Navarro, Maria, 2014. "Did liberalising bar hours decrease traffic accidents?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 189-198.
    14. Colin Green & John Heywood & Maria Navarro Paniagua, 2013. "Did liberalising English and Welsh bar hours cause traffic accidents?," Working Papers 33996659, Lancaster University Management School, Economics Department.
    15. Marcos Yamada Nakaguma & Brandon Restrepo, 2014. "Unintended Benefits of Election Day Alcohol Bans: Evidence from Road Crashes and Hospitalizations in Brazil," Working Papers, Department of Economics 2014_21, University of São Paulo (FEA-USP).
    16. Colin P. Green & Maria Navarro Paniagua, 2016. "Play Hard, Shirk Hard? The Effect of Bar Hours Regulation on Worker Absence," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 78(2), pages 248-264, April.

    More about this item


    Alcohol; Crime;

    JEL classification:

    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law


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