An easy way to reduce violent crime: Raise the price of alcohol

When the researchers ran the numbers, controlling for income and a bunch of other factors believed to correlate with violence (that is, the lower-income you are, the more likely you are to be the victim of violence, all else being equal), they found that “it is estimated that a 1 percent increase in real on-trade alcohol prices could lead to 4,260 fewer violence-related ED attendances per year, while a 1 percent increase in real off-trade alcohol prices could result in 1,788 fewer attendances.” Lumping the two categories together, “a 1 percent sustained increase in the price of alcohol, above inflation, in both markets, could reduce the number of patients requiring ED treatment following injury in violence by over 6,000 patients per year.”

The researchers do note that “poverty and income inequality are the strongest predictors of violence-related injury in England and Wales.” This intuitively makes sense, but on the other hand, reducing poverty and inequality may, in many cases, be a lot trickier than jacking up an alcohol tax a bit.

If you’re American, you might be saying, Well, this was a British study. Would something like this work in the U.S.? The answer, so far as experts can tell, is yes — there’s now evidence from a number of different countries that making alcohol more expensive reduces violence.