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Dry law and homicides: evidence from the São Paulo metropolitan area

  • Ciro Biderman

    (Escola de Economia de São Paulo, Fundação Getúlio Vargas.)

  • João Manoel Pinho de Mello

    ()

    (Department of Economics PUC-Rio)

  • Alexandre A Schneider

    (Secretary of Education,Mayorship of São Paulo.)

Over the last 15 years, several Latin American cities have adopted dry laws, which restrain the sale of alcohol in bars and restaurants during specific hours of the week. Bogotá, in 1991, was the first. Several more have followed suit, or are likely to do so in the near future. Policy makers and the general press have argued that these measures reduce crime. In this paper, we use a particular feature of the adoption of laws in the São Paulo Metropolitan Area (SPMA) to estimate the effect of dry laws on the ultimate form of violent crime: murder. Between March 2001 and August 2004, 16 out of the 39 municipalities of the SPMA have adopted, at different dates, dry laws. By comparing the dynamics of homicide between adopting and non-adopting cities, we estimate that dry laws reduce homicides by at least 10%, with an even higher effect in high crime cities. Results are robust to inclusion of a large set of controls, to propensity score matching, to outliers, and to correction possible spillover effects from adopting to non-adopting cities.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics PUC-Rio (Brazil) in its series Textos para discussão with number 518.

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Length: 40p. JEL Code: I18, R58, Z00, K32
Date of creation: May 2006
Date of revision: Oct 2008
Handle: RePEc:rio:texdis:518
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  1. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2002. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-in-Differences Estimates?," NBER Working Papers 8841, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Jeffrey A. Miron & Jeffrey Zwiebel, 1991. "Alcohol Consumption During Prohibition," NBER Working Papers 3675, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Christopher Carpenter, 2007. "Heavy Alcohol Use and Crime: Evidence from Underage Drunk-Driving Laws," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 50, pages 539-557.
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  6. Adams, Scott & Cotti, Chad, 2008. "Drunk driving after the passage of smoking bans in bars," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(5-6), pages 1288-1305, June.
  7. Rafael Di Tella & Ernesto Schargrodsky, 2004. "Do Police Reduce Crime? Estimates Using the Allocation of Police Forces After a Terrorist Attack," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 115-133, March.
  8. Currie, Janet & Tekin, Erdal, 2006. "Does Child Abuse Cause Crime?," IZA Discussion Papers 2063, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Stephen G. Donald & Kevin Lang, 2007. "Inference with Difference-in-Differences and Other Panel Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(2), pages 221-233, May.
  10. Jenkins, Stephen P, 1995. "Easy Estimation Methods for Discrete-Time Duration Models," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 57(1), pages 129-38, February.
  11. João Manoel Pinho de Mello & Alexandre Schneider, 2007. "Age Structure Explaining a Large Shift in Homicides: The Case of the State of São Paulo," Textos para discussão 549, Department of Economics PUC-Rio (Brazil).
  12. 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.
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