Effects on criminal violence of different beverage types and private and public drinking

Authors

  • Thor Norstrom


Abstract

Aim. The purpose of the study is to analyse the relationship between homicide and assault rates on one hand, and various indicators of alcohol consumption on the other. The latter include private and public drinking with a further disaggregation into beverage-specific drinking. Measurements. The data comprise aggregate time series for Sweden during the period 1956-94. The assault rate is measured as the number of police reported assaults (at all degrees of aggravation) per 100 000 inhabitants (15 + ). The homicide rate is measured as the number of homicides (where the victim was at least one year old) per 100 000 inhabitants (15 + ). Private consumption is gauged as retail sales of alcohol, and public consumption as on-premise sales (litres 100% per inhabitant, 15 + ). These two measures are disaggregated further into beverage specific sales (beer, spirits and wine). Findings. According to the findings, there is a statistically significant relationship between the assault rate and a combined measure of on-premise sales of beer and spirits. The estimated relationship corresponds to an attributable fraction of about 40%. The homicide rate is significantly associated with retail sales of spirits; the attributable fraction is estimated at about 50%. Wine sales are not related to any of the two violence indicators. Conclusions. The findings suggest that the assault rate is related to consumption of beer and spirits in bars and restaurants, while the homicide rate is linked to consumption of spirits in private contexts. The findings, notably specific to Sweden during a certain time period, can be interpreted as the outcome of the interplay of a number of factors, including opportunity structure, social control and context of drinking, drinking patterns associated with the different beverage types and characteristics of the drinkers.

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