Limiting Alcohol Outlet Density to Prevent Alcohol Use and Violence: Estimating Policy Interventions Through Agent-Based Modeling

Alvaro Castillo-Carniglia, Veronica A. Pear, Melissa Tracy, Katherine M. Keyes, Magdalena Cerda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Increasing alcohol outlet density is well-documented to be associated with increased alcohol use and problems, leading to the policy recommendation that limiting outlet density will decrease alcohol problems. Yet few studies of decreasing problematic outlets and outlet density have been conducted. We estimated the association between closing alcohol outlets and alcohol use and alcohol-related violence, using an agent-based model of the adult population in New York City. The model was calibrated according to the empirical distribution of the parameters across the city's population, including the density of on-and off-premise alcohol outlets. Interventions capped the alcohol outlet distribution at the 90th to the 50th percentiles of the New York City density, and closed 5% to 25% of outlets with the highest levels of violence. Capping density led to a lower population of light drinkers (42.2% at baseline vs. 38.1% at the 50th percentile), while heavy drinking increased slightly (12.0% at baseline vs. 12.5% at the 50th percentile). Alcohol-related homicides and nonfatal violence remained unchanged. Closing the most violent outlets was not associated with changes in alcohol use or related problems. Results suggest that focusing solely on closing alcohol outlets might not be an effective strategy to reduce alcohol-related problems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)694-702
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican journal of epidemiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2019



  • alcohol
  • alcohol outlets
  • public health
  • simulation
  • violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology

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