Do Sunday Sales Lead To Increase In Underage Drinking?

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New AAEA Member Research on Changes in Blue Laws

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Underage drinking poses a serious threat to public health, with serious personal, social, and economic consequences

Right now the Indiana State Legislature is debating a proposal that would change the state’s laws on Sunday sales of alcohol. Indiana is currently the only state in the country that doesn’t allow any carry-out sales of beer, wine, or hard liquor on Sunday.

While some legislators have made changing the law “a priority,” one of the arguments against the change is concern additional sales opportunities would increase access to, and use of alcohol, by minors.

However, a team of AAEA researchers from the University of Georgia did not find an increase of underage drinking after Georgia changed its “Blue laws” in 2011.

“Public health literature suggests greater availability of alcohol tends to lead to greater consumption and alcohol-related problems in teenagers,” says Joshua Berning of the University of Georgia. “At the same time, they note teenagers typically acquire alcohol from non-commercial sources such as family and friends. As such, Sunday sales may allow for more adult purchase opportunities but may have no impact on teenage access of consumption.”

Berning is one of the authors of “The Effect of Sunday Alcohol Sales Bans on Teen Drinking in Georgia,” recently chosen to be published in the journal Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy.

While the paper notes “Underage drinking poses a serious threat to public health, with serious personal, social, and economic consequences,” concerns in Georgia about an increase in underage drinking are “unfounded” based on this research.

For more information on this paper, or if you are interested in setting up an interview, please contact Allison Scheetz in the AAEA Business Office.

ABOUT AAEA: Established in 1910, the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association (AAEA) is the leading professional association for agricultural and applied economists, with 2,500 members in more than 60 countries. Members of the AAEA work in academic or government institutions as well as in industry and not-for-profit organizations, and engage in a variety of research, teaching, and outreach activities in the areas of agriculture, the environment, food, health, and international development. The AAEA publishes two journals, the American Journal of Agricultural Economics and Applied Economic Perspectives & Policy, as well as the online magazine Choices. To learn more, visit http://www.aaea.org.

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