Differences in liquor prices between control state-operated and license-state retail outlets in the United States

Addiction. 2013 Feb;108(2):339-47. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2012.04069.x. Epub 2012 Oct 17.


Aims: This study aims to compare the average price of liquor in the United States between retail alcohol outlets in states that have a monopoly ('control' states) with those that do not ('licence' states).

Design: A cross-sectional study of brand-specific alcohol prices in the United States.

Setting: We determined the average prices in February 2012 of 74 brands of liquor among the 13 control states that maintain a monopoly on liquor sales at the retail level and among a sample of 50 license-state liquor stores, using their online-available prices.

Measurements: We calculated average prices for 74 brands of liquor by control versus license state. We used a random-effects regression model to estimate differences between control and license state prices-overall and by alcoholic beverage type. We also compared prices between the 13 control states.

Findings: The overall mean price for the 74 brands was $27.79 in the license states [95% confidence interval (CI): $25.26-30.32] and $29.82 in the control states (95% CI: $26.98-32.66). Based on the random-effects linear regression model, the average liquor price was approximately $2 lower (6.9% lower) in license states.

Conclusions: In the United States monopoly of alcohol retail outlets appears to be associated with slightly higher liquor prices.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Alcoholic Beverages / economics*
  • Commerce / economics*
  • Commerce / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Licensure / economics*
  • Privatization / economics*
  • United States