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Short-Term Community-Wide Effects of School Shootings on Alcohol and Tobacco Consumption

Binnur Balkan, Felix Schafmeister
Published: 14 May 2022

Abstract: School shootings and other tragedies involving gun-violence have become commonplace in the United States. While much research has been conducted into the direct effects on affected individuals, less is known about community-level effects. We use data on grocery-store sales at the county-level to test the hypothesis that the exposure to a traumatic event induces short-run changes in purchases of alcohol and tobacco, well-known and highly accessible substances often linked to coping with traumatic events. Leveraging a specification curve design, we find that although some specifications yield statistically significant effects, there is no robust support for the main hypothesis. We close with a discussion of potential explanations and draw some methodological conclusions for future research.
Keywords: School shootings / alcohol consumption / tobacco consumption / specification curve

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