Violence linked to price of beer

A research report published in Applied Economics has found that the number of patients with violence-related injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms is related to the price of beer.

The paper is available online as a pdf and is from Cardiff University’s Violence and Society Research Group.

The researchers examined admissions to 58 hospital accident and emergency departments over a five year period and found that as the price of beer increased, violence-related injuries decreased.

In general, studies have found that alcohol consumption increases both the risk of being a victim of violence and the perpetrator of it.

There are three main theories on why alcohol and violence are linked: i) due to the drug effects on the brain; ii) because people use alcohol as an excuse for violent behaviour; iii) because people who use alcohol might be more likely to be violent, perhaps due to personality factors like sensation-seeking, impulsivity or risk-taking.

Of course, these theories are not in competition and all the factors are likely to have some influence, but researchers are keen to find out how they interact to better understand the problem.

Interestingly, the Applied Economics study also looked at a number of other factors linked to violence and found that increases in poverty, unemployment, diversity of ethnic population, the summer months and major sporting events also independently predicted an increase in violence.

This combination of an economic and psychological approach to understand violence is particularly important for designing and implementing government or health service policies.

Cardiff University’s Violence and Society Research Group has an interesting history.

It was started by dentist and surgeon Prof Jonathan Shepherd who noticed the amount of facial glass injuries turning up in hospital.

Many turned out to be due to alcohol-fuelled violence and the Group’s research has shown that everything from glass type to availability of recycling facilities can reduce the number of injuries.

The research extended to include violence in general and now takes a comprehensive look at how both social and individual factors influence violent behaviour.

pdf of paper on price of beer and violence.
Link to Violence and Society Research Group page (with full-text papers).

2 Comments

  1. Kid
    Posted April 29, 2007 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

    This article makes the common mistake of taking statistical correlation to be synonomous with causation.
    Beer Price and Violence may be both responding to the same factor, or the relationship between the two may be in fact very weak but falsely strengthened by a lurking variable.

  2. Posted August 7, 2010 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    I’m fed up with the price of alcohol being such a big issue with the rise in the social decay that is rapidly becoming more prevalent in British society. We should be looking more in depth as to why normal social rules are degrading so rapidly.


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