Ruhr Economic Papers

Ruhr Economic Papers #884

Legal Access to Alcohol and Its Impact on Drinking and Crime

by Fabian Dehos

RWI, RGS, RUB, UDE, 12/2020, 47 S./p., 8 Euro, ISBN 978-3-96973-023-2 DOI: 10.4419/96973023



This paper leverages a discontinuity in legal access to alcohol at age 16 to estimate its impacts on teenage drinking and crime in Germany, a country with very high consumption levels. Using detailed survey data and administrative crime records from 2005 to 2015, I detect considerable increases in drinking participation, frequency, and intensity at the legal cutoff along the middle and lower end of the distribution. These increases coincide with discrete jumps in criminal engagement under the influence of alcohol, mostly due to violent and property crimes. I provide evidence that changes in drinking intensity induce these crimes, implying a drinking-crime elasticity of 0.4 at age 16.

JEL-Classification: I12, I18, K42

Keywords: Alcohol; crime; minimum legal drinking age