Alcohol and Violence: Agent-Based Models

Igor Mezic
UC Santa Barbara
Mechanical Engineering

We present a class of Agent-Based Models (ABM's) that represent the
first attempt
to model effects of alcohol consumption on violence in a population. We start with an epidemiological model of drinking in a population.
Specifically, our
model examines the interactions of 3 types of agents defined according
to their current
drinking status as well as by what happens to these interactions when an
alcohol outlet is
introduced into the environment. In line with the current literature on
the dynamics of
drinking behavior, our 3 types of agents are susceptible nondrinkers
(those who have not
started drinking alcohol and display some probability of initiating this
behavior), current
drinkers, and former drinkers; these are considered to be groups that do
not have fixed,
long-term memberships. Mixing of members of these groups causes
transitions between
the groups. We describe an interesting "shielding effect" on a 1-D
lattice that introduction of a drinking
environment causes, where gathering of drinkers at such location causes
a slower rate of conversion of susceptibles
to drinking. In a more realistic models on two-dimensional lattice we
show how the
location of drinking environments and distribution of the population
yields spatial patterns of violent
behavior. We discuss results for models for three cities in the US and
compare models with
data obtained from police reports and hospital reports. We conclude with
discussion of effect
of regulatory measures on change of spatial patterns and magnitude of
violent events in cities.

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