Do juvenile curfew laws reduce underage drinking?

Elyse R. Grossman, David H. Jernigan, Nancy A. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Although not originally enacted to deter the problem of underage drinking in the United States, one set of laws that may influence this behavior is juvenile curfew laws. This research asked the following: (a) What is the effect of enacting a juvenile curfew law on youth drinking, and (b) do demographic variables moderate the relation between juvenile curfew law enactment and drinking? This study examined the effect of juvenile curfew laws on underage drinking, using data from 46 U.S. cities from 1991 to 2005. Method: In 2014, we compiled a data set containing alcohol and curfew law data by zip code. It included 63,081 minors (ages 12-17 years) from 1,081 zip codes. We used difference-in-difference regressions to analyze the data. Results: The effect of the enactment of a curfew law on the likelihood of consuming alcohol in the past year or past 30 days or of heavy episodic drinking in the past 2 weeks was not significant when compared with cities without curfew laws during the same periods. Although the likelihood of consuming alcohol over the past year differed depending on an individual’s characteristics (e.g., race/ethnicity, age, and gender), none of the interaction terms between these characteristics and curfew laws were significant. Conclusions: Curfew laws appear to have a non-significant effect on youth drinking, but these results are unclear without more knowledge as to where and when youth are drinking both before and after the enactment of curfew laws and how these laws are being enforced.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)589-595
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of studies on alcohol and drugs
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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