Health risk and inequitable distribution of liquor stores in African American neighborhood

Soc Sci Med. 2000 Aug;51(4):613-7. doi: 10.1016/s0277-9536(00)00004-6.


In this paper we examine whether the physical availability of alcohol is greater in predominantly African American communities compared to predominantly white communities as indicated by the presence of off premises liquor stores. We investigate the extent to which the income status of the residents of a community mediates the relationship between community racial composition and alcohol availability; and explore whether the intersection of race and class places low income African American communities at increased risk to have such stores located in their communities. Multivariate analytic techniques are used to examine the relationship between community racial composition, median income of neighborhood residents and per capita number of alcohol outlets in 194 census tracts in Baltimore, Maryland. The analysis found that liquor stores are disproportionately located in predominantly black census tracts, even after controlling for census tract socioeconomic status. Census tracts that are both low income and predominantly African American have substantially more liquor stores per capita than other census tracts. Although it is beyond the scope of the present study, our data reveal significant associations between the presence of liquor stores and the risk of health-related social problems in low income neighborhoods. More research needs to be done on the impact of alcohol on the social, psychological, and physiological health of low income urban populations.

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking / ethnology*
  • Alcoholic Beverages / supply & distribution*
  • Baltimore / epidemiology
  • Black or African American / statistics & numerical data*
  • Commerce / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Poverty Areas
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Risk Factors
  • Urban Population*