Sobering Up After the Seventh Inning

Drunk people commit more crime. Not surprising but here’s a clever identification strategy from Klick and MacDonald. Baseball stadiums stop serving alcohol at the bottom of the 7th but the time from bottom of the 7th to the end of the game varies so sometimes people have sobered up by the end of the game and sometimes they haven’t. So what happens when the game runs long or short?

This study examines the impact of alcohol consumption in a Major League Baseball (MLB) stadium on area level counts of crime. The modal practice at MLB stadiums is to stop selling alcoholic beverages after the seventh inning. Baseball is not a timed game, so the duration between the last call for alcohol at the end of the seventh inning and the end of the game varies considerably, providing a unique natural experiment to estimate the relationship between alcohol consumption and crime near a stadium on game days.

Crime data were obtained from Philadelphia for the period 2006–2015 and geocoded to the area around the MLB stadium as well as popular sports bars. We rely on difference-in-differences regression models to estimate the change in crime on home game days around the stadium as the game time extends into extra innings to other areas of the city and around sports bars in Philadelphia relative to days when the baseball team plays away from home.

When there are extra innings and more game-time after the seventh inning alcohol sales stoppage crime declines significantly around the stadium. The crime reduction benefit of the last call alcohol policy is undone when a complex of sports bars opens in the stadium parking lot in 2012. The results suggest that alcohol consumption during baseball games is a contributor to crime.


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