Violence linked to price of beer

Economists examine the relationship between the price of beer and violence:

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 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.