The proposed research project will develop and apply agent-based models (ABMs) to the study of the relationship between alcohol outlet densities and violent crime. Specifically, the research will use the introduction of off-sales alcohol outlets (or package good stores) in the City of Lubbock, Texas on September 23, 2009 to validate theoretically-based ABMs developed using archival data from the previous five years. Prior to this date, the sale of alcohol for off-sale consumption was prohibited within Lubbock city limits. Within a year of this prohibition being lifted, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission had issued 161 off-sale licenses in the City. This change in alcohol availability provides an opportunity to develop computer-based agent-based simulations of violent crime in Lubbock and to assess whether these can reproduce, and indeed predict, empirical spatial patterns of crime within the City with sufficient accuracy.
The specific aims of the proposed research build on members of the research team's previous studies of alcohol outlet density and violent crime.
The aims address some of the fundamental theoretical questions concerning the mechanisms whereby increased alcohol availability leads to increased violence that have been left unanswered by previous statistical studies. Specifically, the two main aims of the proposed project are as follows. First, to develop agent-based models that can generate the geospatial patterns of violent crime in Lubbock for the five- year period (September 23, 2004 to September 22, 2009) before the introduction of off- sale outlets. Second, to use these agent-based models of violent crime in the City of Lubbock to predict what happens to the geospatial distribution of violent crime over the two-year period (September 23, 2009 to September 22, 2011) following the introduction of off-sale outlets. The project will use four theories (routine activities theory, social disorganization theory, social influence/selection theory and a refined version of alcohol availability theory) to inform the development of the agent-based models. The quality of the simulation models will be assessed in terms of the degree to which they generate patterns similar to those found in the actual violent crime data. The simulation model will run on a daily time step for both the pre- and post-licensing change periods. Quarterly violence patterns for the simulated city will be compared to quarterly violent crime data for the real city using descriptive statistics and visual inspection of virtual and real maps, as well as the k-function and kernel density estimation methods.

Public Health Relevance

Alcohol-related violence remains a significant problem in the United States and ecological research has demonstrated that this is not simply an individual-level issue but rather must be understood in terms of the role that access to alcohol within communities plays. The proposed research will use the introduction of off-sales alcohol outlets in Lubbock, Texas on September 23, 2009 to validate theoretically-based agent-based models to better understand the link between alcohol availability and violence. The application of agent-based models to this policy issue has the potential to further our understanding of the social and environmental etiologies of alcohol-related violence within communities.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
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Health Services Research Review Subcommittee (AA)
Program Officer
Bloss, Gregory
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Texas A&M University
Public Health & Prev Medicine
Schools of Public Health
College Station
United States
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Han, Daikwon; Gorman, Dennis M (2014) Socio-spatial patterning of off-sale and on-sale alcohol outlets in a Texas city. Drug Alcohol Rev 33:152-60
Han, Daikwon; Gorman, Dennis M (2013) Evaluating the effects of the introduction of off-sale alcohol outlets on violent crime. Alcohol Alcohol 48:370-4