NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Price of Alcohol, Wife Abuse, and Husband Abuse

Sara Markowitz

NBER Working Paper No. 6916
Issued in January 1999
NBER Program(s):   HE

Alcohol consumption has been frequently linked to family violence. The purpose of this paper is to examine the direct relationship between the price of alcohol, which determines consumption, and violence towards spouses. The data come from the 1985 cross section and the 1985-1987 panel of the National Family Violence Survey. The 1985 data are a nationally representative sample while the panel oversamples violent individuals. Dichotomous indicators of severe violence towards wives and husbands are used. A reduced for violence equation is estimated, and individual-level fixed effects are used to control for unobserved characteristics in the panel. A consistent result that emerges from this paper is that an increase in the pure price of alcohol, as measured by a weighted average of the price of alcohol from beer, wine, and liquor, will serve to reduce severe violence aimed at wives. By contrast, the evidence on the propensity of an increase in the price of alcohol to lower violence towards husbands is mixed. When individual level characteristics are not controlled for, the price is not a predictor of violence towards men. However, once the individual traits are controlled for, a negative relationship between the price and violence emerges.

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Published: Southern Economic Journal, 67, No.2 (October 2000), 279-303.

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