The Effect of a Sunday Liquor-Sales Ban Repeal on Crime: A Triple-Difference Analysis

Seunghoon Han, Charles C. Branas, John M. Macdonald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Scopus citations


Background: This study investigates whether alcohol availability in state-run liquor stores affects crime nearby. In 2003, Pennsylvania repealed its Sunday alcohol-sales ban for a portion of its state-run liquor stores. We capitalize on this change in alcohol policy to assess the effect of alcohol availability on crime occurring within the vicinity of liquor stores that opened on Sundays in Philadelphia. Methods: We employed a difference-in-difference-in-differences model that compared reported crime before versus after the change in alcohol policy, Sundays versus other days of the week, and the fraction of liquor stores affected versus not affected by the repeal. We used crime incident data in Philadelphia between 1998 and 2011. Results: The repeal was associated with a significant increase in total and property-crime incidents occurring around Sunday-open state liquor stores in low-socioeconomic-status neighborhoods. We found no evidence of the displacement of crime to nearby areas. Conclusions: This is the first triple-difference alcohol study that attempts to isolate the micro-spatial effects of a shift in alcohol availability on local crime patterns, and shows that the repeal of Sunday alcohol-sales restrictions may increase crime in poor urban areas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1111-1121
Number of pages11
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2016


  • Alcohol Availability
  • Blue Law
  • Crime
  • Low-Socioeconomic-Status Neighborhood
  • Triple-Difference Analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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