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Taxing Sin and Saving Lives: Can Alcohol Taxation Reduce Female Homicides?


Durrance, Christine Piette; Golden, Shelley D.; Perreira, Krista M.; & Cook, Philip (2011). Taxing Sin and Saving Lives: Can Alcohol Taxation Reduce Female Homicides?. Social Science & Medicine, 73(1), 169-176. PMCID: PMC3806875


With costs exceeding $5.8 billion per year, violence against women has significant ramifications for victims, their families, the health care systems that treat them, and the employers who depend on their labor. Prior research has found that alcohol abuse contributes to violence against both men and women, and that stringent alcohol control policies can reduce alcohol consumption and in turn some forms of violence. In this paper, we estimate the direct relationship between an important alcohol control measure, excise taxes, and the most extreme form of violence, homicide. We use female homicide rates as our measure of severe violence, as this measure is consistently and accurately reported across multiple years. Our results provide evidence that increased alcohol taxes reduce alcohol consumption and that reductions in alcohol consumption can reduce femicide. Unfortunately, a direct test of the relationship does not have the power to determine whether alcohol taxes effectively reduce female homicide rates. We conclude that while alcohol taxes have been shown to effectively reduce other forms of violence against women, policy makers may need alternative policy levers to reduce the most severe form of violence against women.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Social Science & Medicine


Durrance, Christine Piette
Golden, Shelley D.
Perreira, Krista M.
Cook, Philip