Do Neighborhood Attributes Moderate the Relationship between Alcohol Establishment Density and Crime?

Darin J. Erickson, Bradley P. Carlin, Kathleen M. Lenk, Harrison S. Quick, Eileen M. Harwood, Traci L. Toomey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Although numerous studies have found a positive association between the density of alcohol establishments and various types of crime, few have examined how neighborhood attributes (e.g., schools, parks) could moderate this association. We used data from Minneapolis, MN with neighborhood as the unit of analysis (n = 83). We examined eight types of crime (assault, rape, robbery, vandalism, nuisance crime, public alcohol consumption, driving while intoxicated, underage alcohol possession/consumption) and measured density as the total number of establishments per roadway mile. Neighborhood attributes assessed as potential moderators included non-alcohol businesses, schools, parks, religious institutions, neighborhood activism, neighborhood quality, and number of condemned houses. Using Bayesian techniques, we created a model for each crime outcome (accounting for spatial auto-correlation and controlling for relevant demographics) with an interaction term (moderator × density) to test each potential moderating effect. Few interaction terms were statistically significant. The presence of at least one college was the only neighborhood attribute that consistently moderated the density–crime association, with the presence of a college attenuating the association between the density and three types of crime (assaults, nuisance crime, and public consumption). However, caution should be used when interpreting the moderating effect of college presence because of the small number of colleges in our sample. The lack of moderating effects of neighborhood attributes, except for presence of a college, suggests that the addition of alcohol establishments to any neighborhood, regardless of its other attributes, could result in an increase in a wide range of crime.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)254-264
Number of pages11
JournalPrevention Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Drs. Linda Bosma, Paul Gruenewald, and Robert Parker for their helpful guidance in the development of this study. We also thank the city of Minneapolis with its assistance with data collection and guidance in the development and implementation of the study. The study was also successful because of the valuable contributions of the Minnesota Population Center at the University of Minnesota. Finally, we thank several staff members who were critical to the success of this study: Susan Fitze for coordinating the study, William Baker for assisting with the measurement development, Joe Koeller for the geocoding of data, and Jake Kelberer and Alex Baker for assistance with data collection. The study was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism under grant R01AA016309-02 (Traci L. Toomey, Principal Investigator).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2013, Society for Prevention Research.


  • Alcohol outlets
  • Neighborhood
  • Violent crime


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