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Differences in liquor prices between control state-operated and license-state retail outlets in the United States


Correspondence to: Michael Siegel, Department of Community Health Sciences, Boston University School of Public Health, 801 Massachusetts Avenue, 3rd Floor, Boston, MA 02118, USA; E-mail:



This study aims to compare the average price of liquor in the United States between retail alcohol outlets in states that have a monopoly (‘control’ states) with those that do not (‘licence’ states).


A cross-sectional study of brand-specific alcohol prices in the United States.


We determined the average prices in February 2012 of 74 brands of liquor among the 13 control states that maintain a monopoly on liquor sales at the retail level and among a sample of 50 license-state liquor stores, using their online-available prices.


We calculated average prices for 74 brands of liquor by control versus license state. We used a random-effects regression model to estimate differences between control and license state prices—overall and by alcoholic beverage type. We also compared prices between the 13 control states.


The overall mean price for the 74 brands was $27.79 in the license states [95% confidence interval (CI): $25.26–30.32] and $29.82 in the control states (95% CI: $26.98–32.66). Based on the random-effects linear regression model, the average liquor price was approximately $2 lower (6.9% lower) in license states.


In the United States monopoly of alcohol retail outlets appears to be associated with slightly higher liquor prices.