The Effect of Alcohol Prohibition on Illicit-Drug-Related Crimes
We evaluate the effect of alcohol access on drug-related crime and mortality using detailed information on access laws in Texas between 1978 and 1996. Counties with alcohol access have higher average levels of drug-related crimes. However, after controlling for both county and year fixed effects, we find that having local alcohol access decreases crime associated with illicit drugs. This basic finding is replicated in two alternative analyses. First, we find that prohibiting the sale of beer to persons under 21, which arguably increases the implicit price of liquor more for juveniles in wet counties than for those in dry counties, increases the fraction of drug-related arrests involving juveniles more in wet counties than in dry counties. Second, we find that after controlling for both county and year fixed effects, local alcohol access decreases mortality associated with illicit drugs. Alcohol access and illicit-drug-related outcomes appear to be substitutes.
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