Center for Policy Research
COVID-19 Has Strengthened the Relationship Between Alcohol Consumption and Domestic Violence
Aaron Chalfin, Shooshan Danagoulian, and Monica Deza
C.P.R. Working Paper No. 259
A large body of evidence documents a link between alcohol consumption and violence involving intimate partners and close family members. Recent scholarship suggests that since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent stay-at-home orders, there has been a marked increase in domestic violence. This research considers an important mechanism behind the increase in domestic violence during the COVID-19 pandemic: an increase in the riskiness of alcohol consumption. We combine 911 call data with newly available high-resolution microdata on visits to bars and liquor stores in Detroit, MI and find that the strength of the relationship between visits to alcohol outlets and domestic violence more than doubles starting in March 2020. We find more limited evidence with respect to non-domestic assaults, supporting our conclusion that it is not alcohol consumption per se but alcohol consumption at home that is a principal driver of domestic violence.