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The impact of a large reduction in the price of alcohol on area differences in interpersonal violence: a natural experiment based on aggregate data
  1. K Herttua1,
  2. P Mäkelä2,
  3. P Martikainen1,
  4. R Sirén3
  1. 1
    Population Research Unit, Department of Sociology, University of Helsinki, Finland
  2. 2
    National Research and Development Centre for Welfare and Health, Helsinki, Finland
  3. 3
    National Research Institute of Legal Policy, Helsinki, Finland
  1. Dr K Herttua, Department of Sociology, PO Box 18, FIN-00014 University of Helsinki, Finland; kimmo.herttua{at}helsinki.fi

Abstract

Background: This paper examines the effect of a drastic reduction in the price of alcohol that occurred in Finland in 2004 on interpersonal violence in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, and how these changes varied at the small-area level.

Methods: This study comprised 86 administrative tracts from the Helsinki Metropolitan Area. Data pertaining to the social structure of the tracts and interpersonal violence were collected from archival sources in the cities and the police in 2002–2005, and analysed using regression analysis.

Results: Interpersonal violence rates did not increase after a large reduction in alcohol prices and an increase in consumption. For domestic violence, the rate even decreased. There was a significant relationship between measures of social disadvantage and interpersonal violence. A low educational level and a high outmigration level were the most salient factors. The differences in impact of the reduction in alcohol prices on interpersonal violence between high-, intermediate- and low-status areas were small.

Conclusions: It would appear that a radical reduction in the price of alcohol and an increase in consumption do not necessarily lead to detrimental consequences in interpersonal violence or to an adverse development in areas of social disadvantage.

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Footnotes

  • Funding: This study was supported by the Finnish Foundation for Alcohol Studies.

  • Competing interests: None declared.

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