Bar Operating Hours Linked to Violence

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A study out of Norway has shown that the hours a bar is open directly influences the amount of violence reported. This works both ways, more hours lead to more violence and closing earlier yields less. Even as little as one hour difference showed a measurable effect.

This study pins down a metric that is often disputed as business owners seek to increase income by staying open later or selling alcohol on days when it is restricted. Some parts of the US still limit Sunday sales. There are also constant discussions about whether to sell alcohol at sports stadiums, airports or even movie theaters. Since this study looked specifically at violence, the evidence argues against allowing broader venues for booze sales.

A natural criticism is that the results may not apply to the US. One of the study authors claims it will have ramifications on legislation internationally, but it had an important local impact. Like the best scientific studies it sought to answer a specific question and settle an argument:
”These findings come more than a year after the Norwegian government proposed reducing sales hours for on-premises trading to reduce violence and public nuisance. The proposal was supported by police commissioners but rejected by alcohol businesses and right wing political parties who claimed that reduced sales hours would not reduce violence.”

In an era of reduced government spending and jail overcrowding, legislation that reduces the need for police action is seen as good fiscal policy. The downside, if any, is one of economics. The assumption is that less hours selling to customers means less income and a lowering of the overall money in play. The problem for legislators is teasing out whether the upside is better than the downside. But this study will certainly give the regulators more ammunition.

It could certainly be replicated in the US. Data was historical and based on incident reports by comparing the before and after conditions when a change in operating hours occurred. Cities that have enacted local ordinances on alcohol sales could be examined to see if the same pattern happens in the US, adding to the believability of the study

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