Alcohol and Homicide in Europe



This chapter is a literature review of what we know and do not know about the relationship between alcohol consumption and homicide in Europe. The chapter is based on previous research (mainly time-series analysis) and books on the topic, as well as reports from the European Union and WHO. It will also present some recent data on levels of consumption in nations, homicide rates, and different drinking patterns and beverage preferences across European countries. The main conclusion is that alcohol consumption is an important factor when we wish to explain changes in homicide rates over time. Several time-series analyses of aggregate-level data have demonstrated that an increase in alcohol consumption is followed by an increase in homicide rates. Correspondingly, a reduction in homicides has been demonstrated in countries with sudden and large changes in alcohol consumption due to rationing, antialcohol campaigns, and strikes. The literature also supports that drinking patterns are of importance when studying the association between alcohol and homicide, i.e., the impact of changes in alcohol consumption tends to be stronger in countries with more detrimental drinking patterns. Policy strategies such as limiting the availability and increasing the price of alcohol combined with strategies to reduce the pattern of binge drinking are control measures that seem to have a significant potential for reducing the prevalence of heavy drinking episodes and thereby preventing homicides.


Alcohol Consumption European Union Binge Drinking Eastern European Country Homicide Rate 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Agnew, R. (1992). Foundation for a general strain theory of crime and delinquency. Criminology, 30, 47–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Anderson, P., & Baumberg, B. (2006). Alcohol in Europe: A public health perspective. London: Institute of Alcohol Studies. Retrieved September 10, 2010, from:
  3. Andrienko, Y. (2001). Understanding crime growth in Russia during the transition: a criminometric approach. Ekonomicheskiy Zhurnal Vyshey Shkoly Ekonomiki, 5, 194–220.Google Scholar
  4. Babor, T., Caetano, R., Casswell, S., Edwards, G., Giesbrecht, N., Graham, K., et al. (2010). Alcohol: No ordinary commodity. Research and public policy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bobak, M., McKee, M., Rose, R., & Marmot, M. (1999). Alcohol consumption in a national sample of the Russian population. Addiction, 94, 857–866.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bødal, K., & Fridhov, I. M. (1995). Det gjelder drap. [Concerning murder]. Oslo: Kriminalomsorgens utdanningssenter.Google Scholar
  7. Box, G. E. P., & Jenkins, G. M. (1976). Time series analysis: Forecasting and control. London: Holden-Day.Google Scholar
  8. Bruun, K., Edwards, G., Lumio, M., Mäkelä, K., Pan, L., Popham, R. E., et al. (1975). Alcohol control policies in public health perspective (Vol. 25). Helsinki: Finnish Foundation for Alcohol Studies.Google Scholar
  9. Bushman, B. J. (1997). Effects of alcohol on human aggression: Validity of proposed explanations. In M. Galanter (Ed.), Recent developments in alcoholism: Alcohol and violence (pp. 227–243). New York: Plenum Press.Google Scholar
  10. Bye, E. K. (2007). Alcohol and violence: Use of possible confounders in a time-series analysis. Addiction, 102, 369–376.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bye, E. K. (2008). Alcohol and homicide in Eastern Europe: A time series analysis of six countries. Homicide Studies, 12(1), 7–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Chervyakov, V. V., Shkolnikov, V. M., Pridemore, W. A., & McKee, M. (2002). The changing nature of murder in Russia. Social Science & Medicine, 5, 1713–1724.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cockerham, C. (1999). Health and social change in Russia and Eastern Europe. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  14. Cohen, L. E., & Felson, M. (1979). Social change and crime rates trends: A routine activity approach. American Sociological Review, 44, 588–608.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Collins, J. J. (1981). Alcohol use and criminal behaviour: An empirical, theoretical and methodological overview. In J. J. Collins (Ed.), Drinking and crime (pp. 288–316). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  16. Dooley, E. (2001). Homicide in Ireland 1992–1996. Dublin: Stationary Office.Google Scholar
  17. Fagan, J. (1990). Intoxication and aggression. In M. Tonry & J. Q. Wilson (Eds.), Drugs and crime (pp. 241–320). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  18. Gavrilova, N. S., Semyonova, V. G., Evdokushkina, G. N., & Gavrilov, L. A. (2000). The response of violent mortality to economic crisis in Russia. Population Research and Policy Review, 19, 397–419.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Graham, K., Leonard, K. E., Room, R., Wild, T. C., Pihl, R. O., Bois, C., et al. (1998). Current directions in research on understanding and preventing intoxicated aggression. Addiction, 93, 659–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Graham, K., Schmidt, G., & Gillis, K. (1996). Circumstances when drinking leads to aggression: An overview of research findings. Contemporary Drug Problems, 23, 493–557.Google Scholar
  21. Greenfield, L. A., & Henneberg, M. A. (2001). Victim and Offender self-reports of alcohol involvement in crime. Alcohol Research & Health, 25, 20–31.Google Scholar
  22. Gustafson, R. (1995). Is it possible to link alcohol intoxication causally to aggression and violence? A summary of the Swedish experimental approach. Studies on Crime and Crime Prevention, 4, 22–42.Google Scholar
  23. Hemström, Ö., Leifman, H., & Ramstedt, M. (2002). The ECAS-survey on drinking patterns and alcohol-related problems. In T. Norström (Ed.), Alcohol in postwar Europe: Consumption, drinking patterns, consequences and policy responses in 15 European Countries (pp. 105–126). Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell.Google Scholar
  24. Hindelang, M. J., Gottfredson, M. R., & Garofalo, J. (1978). Victims of personal crime: An empirical foundation for a theory of personal victimization. Cambridge: Ballinger.Google Scholar
  25. Hougen, H. P., Rodge, S., & Poulsen, K. (1999). Homicides in two Scandinavian capitals. The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology, 20(2), 293–299.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Institute of Alcohol Studies (IAS). IAS Factsheet: Alcohol & Crime. Retrieved September 10, from Scholar
  27. Iontchev, A. (1998). Central and Eastern Europe. In M. Grant (Ed.), Alcohol and emerging markets: Patterns, problems, and response (pp. 177–201). Philadephia: Brunner/Mazel.Google Scholar
  28. Khaltourina, D. A., & Korotayev, A. V. (2008). Potential for alcohol policy to decrease the mortality crisis in Russia. Evalution and the Health Proffesions, 31, 272–281.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kim, S. W., & Pridemore, W. A. (2005). Social change, institutional anomie, and serious property crime in transitional Russia. British Journal of Criminology, 45(1), 81–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kivivuori, J., Lehti, M., & Aaltonen, M. (2007). Homicide in Finland, 2002–2006. A Description Based on the Finnish Homicide Monitoring System (FHMS). Research Brief 3/2007.National Research Institute of Legal Policy, Finland. Retrieved September 10 2010, from Scholar
  31. Kuendig, H., Plant, M. A., Plant, M. L., Miller, P., Kuntsche, S., & Gmel, G. (2008). Alcohol–related adverse consequences: Cross–cultural variations in attribution process among young adults. European Journal of Public Health, 18(4), 386–391.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Landberg, J. (2008). Alcohol and suicide in Eastern Europe. Drug and Alcohol Review, 27, 361–373.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Landberg, J. (2010). Population drinking and fatal injuries in Eastern Europe: A time-series analysis of six countries. European Addiction Research, 16, 43–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Landberg, J., & Norström, T. (2010). Alcohol and homicide in Russia and the United States: A comparative analysis. In J. Landberg (Ed.), Alcohol-related problems in Eastern Europe: A comparative perspective (pp. 99–112). Stockholm: Universitetsservice US-AB.Google Scholar
  35. Lehti, M. (2001). Homicide trends in Estonia, 1971–1996. In H. Ylikangas (Ed.), Five centuries of violence in Finland and the Baltic Area (pp. 133–192). Columbus: Ohio State University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Lehti, M. (2002). Henkirikokset 1998–2000. Tutkimus poliisin tietoon vuosina 1998–2000 tulleista henkirikoksista (Homicides in 1998–2000). Oikeus 2002:14. Helsinki: Tilastokeskus.Google Scholar
  37. Leifman, H. (2002). Trends in population drinking. In T. Norström (Ed.), Alcohol in postwar Europe: Consumption, drinking patterns, consequences and policy responses in 15 European Countries (pp. 49–81). Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell.Google Scholar
  38. Lemmens, P. (2001). Relationship of Alcohol Consumption and Alcohol Problems at the Population Level. In N. Heather, T. J. Peters, & T. Stockwell (Eds.), International handbook of alcohol dependence and problems (pp. 395–412). Chichester: Wiley.Google Scholar
  39. Lenke, L. (1990). Alcohol and criminal violence: Time series analysis in a comparative perspective. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell.Google Scholar
  40. Leon, D. A., & Shkolnikov, V. M. (1998). Social stress and the Russian mortality crisis. Journal of the American Medical Association, 279, 790–791.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Leon, D., Shkolnikov, V., & Mckee, M. (2009). Alcohol and Russian mortality: A continuing crisis. Addiction, 104, 1630–1636.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. MacAndrew, C., & Edgerton, R. B. (1969). Drunken ­comportment. Chicago: Aldine Publishing.Google Scholar
  43. Mäkelä, P., Gmel, G., Grittner, U., Kuendig, H., Kuntsche, S., Bloomfield, K., et al. (2006). Drinking patterns and their gender differences in Europe. Alcohol and Alcoholism, 41, i8–i18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Malyutina, S., Bobak, M., Kurilovich, S., Ryizova, E., Nikitin, Y., & Marmot, M. (2001). Alcohol consumption and binge drinking in Novosibirsk, Russia, 1985–95. Addiction, 96, 987–995.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Messner, S. F., & Rosenfeld, R. (1997). Crime and the American dream. California: Wadesworth Publishing.Google Scholar
  46. Midanik, L. T., Tam, T. W., Greenfield, T. K., & Caetano, R. (1996). Risk functions for alcohol-related problems in a 1988 US national sample. Addiction, 91, 1427–1437.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Miethe, T. D., Stafford, M. S., & Long, J. S. (1987). Social differentiation in criminal victimization: A test of routine activities/lifestyles theories. American Sociological Review, 52, 184–194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Nemtsov, A. V. (1998). Alcohol-related harm and alcohol consumption in Moscow before, during and after a major anti-alcohol campaign. Addiction, 93, 1501–1510.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Nemtsov, A. V. (2000). Estimates of total alcohol consumption in Russia, 1980–94. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 58, 133–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Norström, T. (1998). Effects on criminal violence of different beverage types and private and public drinking. Addiction, 93, 689–699.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Norström, T. (Ed.). (2002). Alcohol in post-war Europe. Consumption, drinking patterns, consequences and policy responses in 15 European Countries. Stockholm: National Institute of Public Health.Google Scholar
  52. Norström, T., & Skog, O.-J. (2001). Alcohol and mortality: Methodological and analytical issues in aggregate analyses. Addiction, 96, 5–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Norström, T., & Ramstedt, M. (2005). Mortality and population drinking: a review of the literature. Drug and Alcohol Review, 24, 537–547.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Parker, R. N. (1993a). The effects of context on alcohol and violence. Alcohol Health and Research World, 17, 117–122.Google Scholar
  55. Parker, R. N. (1993b). Alcohol and theories of homicide. In F. Adler & W. Laufer (Eds.), Advances in criminological theory (Vol. 4, pp. 113–141). New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers.Google Scholar
  56. Parker, R. N. (1995). Bringing “Booze” back in: The relationship between alcohol and homicide. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 32, 3–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Parker, R. N. (1998). Alcohol, homicide, and cultural context: A cross-national analysis of gender-specific homicide victimization. Homicide Studies, 2, 6–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Parker, R. N., & Auerhahn, K. (1998). Alcohol, drugs, and violence. Annual Review of Sociology, 24, 291–311.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Parker, R. N., & Cartmill, R. S. (1998). Alcohol and homicide in the US: Or one reason why US rates of violence may be going down. The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 88, 1369–1398.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Parker, R. N., & Rebhun, L. A. (1995). Alcohol and homicide: A deadly combination of two American traditions. Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  61. Pernanen, K. (1981). Theoretical aspects of the relationship between alcohol use and crime. In J. J. Collins (Ed.), Drinking and crime: Perspectives on the relationship between alcohol consumption and criminal behaviour (pp. 1–69). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  62. Pernanen, K. (1991). Alcohol in human violence. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  63. Pernanen, K. (2001). What is meant by “alcohol-related” consequences? In H. Klingemann & G. Gmel (Eds.), Mapping the social consequences of alcohol consumption (pp. 21–31). Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Pernanen, K., Cousineau, M.-M., Brochu, S., & Sun, F. (2002). Proportions of crimes associated with alcohol and other drugs in Canada. Ottawa: Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse.Google Scholar
  65. Pomerleau, J., McKee, M., Rose, R., Haerpfer, C. W., Rotman, D., & Tumanov, S. (2005). Drinking in the commonwealth of independent states: Evidence from eight countries. Addiction, 100, 1647–1668.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Popova, S., Rehm, J., Patra, J., & Zatonski, W. (2007). Comparing alcohol consumption in central and Eastern Europe to other European countries. Alcohol and Alcoholism, 42, 465–473.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Pridemore, W. A. (2002). Vodka and violence: Alcohol consumption and homicide rates in Russia. American Journal of Public Health, 92, 1921–1930.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Pridemore, W. A. (2004). Weekend effects on binge drinking and homicide mortality: Preliminary evidence for the social connection between alcohol and violence in Russia. Addiction, 99, 1034–1041.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Pridemore, W. A., & Chamlin, M. B. (2006). A time-series analysis of the impact of heavy drinking on homicide and suicide mortality in Russia, 1956–2002. Addiction, 101(12), 1719–1729.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Pridemore, W. A., & Snowden, A. J. (2009). Reduction in suicide mortality following a new national alcohol policy in Slovenia: An interrupted time-series analysis. American Journal of Public Health, 99(5), 915–920.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Pridemore, W. A., & Spivak, A. L. (2003). Patterns of suicide mortality in Russia. Suicide & Life-Threatening Behavior, 33(2), 132–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Ramstedt, M. (2007). Population drinking and liver cirrhosis mortality: Is there a link in Eastern Europe? Addiction, 102, 1212–1223.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Razvodovsky, Y. E. (2003). Association between distilled spirits consumption and violent mortality rate. Drugs: Education, Prevention & Policy, 10, 235–250.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Razvodovsky, Y. E. (2007). Homicide and alcohol intoxication in Russia, 1956–2005. Alcoholism, 43, 36–50.Google Scholar
  75. Razvodovsky, Y. E. (2010). Beverage-specific alcohol sales and violent mortality in Russia. Adicciones, 22(4), 311–315.Google Scholar
  76. Rehm, J., Ashley, M. J., Room, R., Single, E., Bondy, S., Ferrence, R., et al. (1996). On the emerging paradigm of drinking patterns and their social and health consequences. Addiction, 9, 1615–1622.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Rehm, J., Mathers, C., Popova, S., Thavorncharoensap, M., Teerawattananon, Y., & Patra, J. (2009). Global burden of disease and injury and economic cost attributable to alcohol use and alcohol-use disorders. Lancet, 373, 2223–2233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Rehm, J., Room, R., Graham, K., Monteiro, M., Gmel, G., & Sempos, C. T. (2003). The relationship of average alcohol consumption and patterns of drinking to ­burden of disease: An overview. Addiction, 98, 1209–1228.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Rehm, J., Room, R., Monterio, M., Gmel, G., Graham, K., Rhen, N., et al. (2004). Alcohol. In M. Ezzati, A. D. Lopez, A. Rodgers, & C. J. L. Murray (Eds.), Comparative quantification of health risks. Global and regional burden of disease attributable to selected major risk factors: Volume 1 (pp. 959–1108). Geneva: World Health Organisation.Google Scholar
  80. Roizen, J. (1997). Epidemiological issues in alcohol-­violence. In M. Galanter (Ed.), Recent developments in alcoholism: Alcoholism and violence: Volume 13 (pp. 7–40). New York: Plenum Press.Google Scholar
  81. Room, R., Bondy, S., & Ferris, J. (1995). The risk of harm to oneself from drinking, Canada 1989. Addiction, 90, 499–513.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Room, R., & Rossow, I. (2001). The share of violence attributable to drinking. Journal of Substance Use, 6, 218–228.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Rossow, I. (1996). Alcohol related violence: The impact of drinking pattern and drinking context. Addiction, 91, 1651–1661.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Rossow, I. (2001). Alcohol and homicide: A cross-cultural comparison of the relationship in 14 European countries. Addiction, 96, 77–92.Google Scholar
  85. Rossow, I. (2004). Alcohol consumption and homicides in Canada, 1950–1999. Contemporary Drug Problems, 31, 541–559.Google Scholar
  86. Rossow, I., Pape, H., & Wichstrøm, L. (1999). Young, wet & wild? Associations between alcohol intoxication and violent behaviour in adolescence. Addiction, 94(7), 1017–1031.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Rossow, I., Pernanen, K., & Rehm, J. (2001). Accidents, suicide and violence. In H. Klingemann & G. Gmel (Eds.), Mapping the social consequences of alcohol consumption (pp. 93–112). Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Rying, M. (2000). Dödligt våld i Sverige 1990–1998. En deskriptiv studie [Fatal violence in Sweden 1990–1998. A descriptive study]. Stockholm: Kriminologiska institutionen, Stockholms universitet.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  89. Sampson, R. J., & Wooldredge, J. D. (1987). Linking the micro- and macro level dimension of lifestyle. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 3, 371–393.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  90. Schmid, H., Ter Bogt, T., Godeau, E., Hublet, A., Ferreira Dias, S., & Fotiou, A. (2003). Drunkenness among Young People: A Cross-National Comparison. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 64, 650–661.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  91. Shkolnikov, V. M., & Nemtsov, A. (1997). The anti-alcohol campaign and variations in Russian mortality. In J. L. Bobadilla, C. A. Costello, & F. Mitchell (Eds.), Premature death in the new independent states (pp. 239–261). Washington: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  92. Simpura, J., Boris, M., & Mustonen, H. (1997). Russian drinking in the 1990s: patterns and trends in international comparision. In J. Simpura & B. M. Levin (Eds.), Demystifying Russian drinking: Comparative studies from the 1990s (pp. 79–107). Helsinki: STAKES.Google Scholar
  93. Simpura, J., & Karlsson, T. (2001). Trends in drinking patterns among adult population in 15 European countries, 1950–2002: A review. Nordic Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 18(English supplement), 31–53.Google Scholar
  94. Skog, O.-J. (1991a). Implications of the distribution theory for drinking and alcoholism. In D. J. Pittman & H. White (Eds.), Society, culture, and drinking patterns reexamined (pp. 576–597). New Brunswick: Rutgers Center of Alcohol Studies.Google Scholar
  95. Skog, O.-J. (1991b). Drinking and the distribution of alcohol consumption. In D. J. Pittman & H. White (Eds.), Society, culture, and drinking patterns reexamined (pp. 135–156). New Brunswick: Rutgers Center of Alcohol Studies.Google Scholar
  96. Skog, O. -J., & Bjørk, E. (1988). Alkohol og voldskriminalitet. En analyse av utviklingen i Norge 1931–1982 [Alcohol and violent crime. An analysis of the 1931–1982 trend in Norway]. Nordisk Tidsskrift for Kriminalvidenskab, 88, 1–23.Google Scholar
  97. Stockwell, T., Single, E., Hawks, D., & Rehm, J. (1997). Sharpening the focus of alcohol policy from aggregate consumption to harm and risk reduction. Addiction Research, 5, 1–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  98. The Scottish Government. (2002). HOMICIDE IN SCOTLAND, 2002. Statistical Bulletin Criminal Justice Series CrJ/2003/9. Retrived 10 September, 2010, from Scholar
  99. Treml, V. G. (1997). Soviet and Russian statistics on alcohol consumption and abuse. In J. L. Bobadilla, C. A. Costello, & F. Mitchell (Eds.), Premature death in the new independent states (pp. 220–238). Washington: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  100. Wallin, E. (2004). Responsible beverage service. Effects of a community action project. Stockholm: Stockholm University.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  101. Wells, S., Graham, K., Speechley, M., & Koval, J. J. (2005). Drinking patterns, drinking contexts and alcohol-related aggression among late adolescent and young adult drinkers. Addiction, 100, 933–944.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  102. Wells, S., Graham, K., & West, P. (2000). Alcohol-related aggression in the general population. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 61, 626–632.Google Scholar
  103. World Health Organization. (2002). The World Health Report. Reducing risks, promoting healthy life. Geneva: World Health Organization.Google Scholar
  104. World Health Organization. (2004a). WHO global status report on alcohol 2004. Geneva: World Health Organisation.Google Scholar
  105. World Health Organization. (2004b). Global status report on alcohol 2004 (2nd ed.). Geneva: World Health Organization.Google Scholar
  106. World Health Organization. (2006). Interpersonal Violence and Alcohol in the Russian Federation. Policy briefing.Violence and Injury Prevention Programme. Copenhagen: WHO Regional Office for Europe. Retrieved September 10, 2010, from:

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Norwegian Institute for Alcohol and Drug ResearchOsloNorway
  2. 2.Department of SociologyUniversity of OsloOsloNorway

Personalised recommendations