alcohol availability & alcohol consumption: new evidence from sunday sales restrictions

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Alcohol Availability & Alcohol Consumption: New Evidence from Sunday Sales Restrictions. Kitt Carpenter (UC Irvine) & Daniel Eisenberg (University of Michigan) Comments welcome ( Motivation. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


  • Alcohol Availability &Alcohol Consumption:New Evidence from Sunday Sales RestrictionsKitt Carpenter (UC Irvine) &Daniel Eisenberg (University of Michigan)

    Comments welcome (

  • MotivationLarge body of evidence in economics and public health that links alcohol availability and alcohol consumption.

    Availability as measured by:Prices, taxesAge restrictionsProximity to liquor stores

  • Our Paper: Sunday Sales PoliciesAll states allow alcohol to be purchased on Sundays for on-premise consumption (e.g. at bars & restaurants).

    States and provinces vary as to whether alcohol can be purchased on Sundays for off-premise consumption (e.g. at home).Some have no restrictionsSome prohibit entirelySome allow localities to decide

  • Sunday Sales Map: 2006 (APIS)

  • BackgroundBlue laws have been around since before the Revolutionary war.

    Prohibited shopping, working, or consuming alcohol on Sundays.

    Enforcement unclear, but strong support around Prohibition era.

  • Policy RelevanceSince 2002, 12 states have repealed their bans on off-premise Sunday sales, trying to increase state tax revenues.Possible unintended effects:What if Sunday sales restrictions do not affect overall sales/consumption? (e.g. if they simply shift the within-week distribution?)What if bar goers substitute toward home drinking?If consumption does increase on Sundays, what if there are negative externalities? (e.g. fatalities)

  • Our Question:Do Blue Laws Affect Drinking?We are aware of no empirical evidence on the effects of these restrictions on alcohol consumption per se.

    This is surprising, since the restrictions:are widespread (16 states prohibit SS)are nontrivial (14% of hours of sale)have directly testable implications

  • Related Literature - FatalitiesMcMillan et. al. (2005 AJPH)Considers New Mexicos 1995 repeal of its Sunday sales ban.Finds extremely large fatality increases (42%)

    Smith (78, 87, 88a, 88b, 90)Uses Australian city/state introduction of Sunday trading hours, controls for changes in outcomes on other days of the week.Finds extremely large fatality increases (32-100%).

  • Data Requirements For This StudyGeographic identifiers & day-specific alcohol consumption outcomes.

    In US: NLAES 1992 (N ~ 40,000)In Canada: NPHS 1994-99 (N ~ 57,000)We use the data as repeated cross-sections to take advantage of large Ontario buy-in in 1996/97

  • Cross-Section Drinking Model: OLSDay-specific drinking outcome = + 1X + 2(Sunday sales allowed) + 3Z + Jd +

    X includes: race, education, sex, marital status, veteran status, employment dummiesJd are Census division indicators (US only)Z is state ACCRA real beer, wine, and spirits prices (US only)

  • Coefficient is: Sunday Sales OKUS: NLAES 1992

  • Alternative Model: Any Drinks

  • Coefficient is: Sunday Sales OKCanadian NPHS 1994-1999

  • Interpreting Cross-Section ResultsPatterns of coefficients support a causal effect of Sunday sales restrictions on point in time consumption.Modest evidence of Monday/Tuesday spillovers & Friday/Saturday substitution.Estimates consistent with a small but nontrivial effect of Sunday sales on overall population drinking.

  • Remaining Unobservables?What if unobserved characteristics about states are correlated not only with overall alcohol consumption but also day-specific consumption?Religiosity may be correlated both with the presence of a Sunday sales restriction and lower drinking on Sundays.

    Goal: isolate a plausibly exogenous change in Sunday-specific availability.

  • Ontarios policy changeAlcohol sales are heavily regulated by the Canadian provincial governments.In Ontario, off-premise alcohol sales only available at LCBOs (not at supermarkets).

    Prior to 1997, allowed some Sunday sales at a few Nov/Dec holidays.After 1997, Sunday sales ok.No other province changed Sunday alcohol sales policy over this period.

  • Diff-in-Diff Drinking Model: OLSDay-specific drinking outcome = + 1X + 2(After 1997) + 3(Ontario) + 4(After 1997 * Ontario) +

    X includes: race, education, sex, marital status, employment dummiesRobust standard errors clustered on province.

  • Coefficient is: Ontario * After 97Canadian NPHS 1994-1999

  • Interpreting the DD ResultsConsistent with a causal effect of Sunday sales restrictions on Sunday alcohol consumptionModest evidence of effects on overall population drinkingEffect sizes slightly smaller than those implied by cross-sectional resultsRelevant subsamples are significant at 5% (prime age adults, females)

  • ImplicationsWe have not evaluated the overall costs/benefits of liberalizing Sunday sales policies.Main benefits are reductions in inconvenience costs.Modest consumption effects suggest health costs are unlikely to be severe, though this requires more research.

  • Next StepsCanadian Community Health Survey (2001 and 2003), very large samples (100K each)

    Fatal Accident Reporting System (FARS)1992: Do day-specific fatalities mirror our day-specific consumption patterns?More recently, do repeals of Sunday sales bans affect day-specific fatalities?

    Comments welcome (

    Be sure to note how partial bans (where localities can decide) are colored here


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