Lockdown drinking: The sobering effect of price controls in a pandemic

Farasat Bokhari, Ratula Chakraborty, Paul Dobson, Marcello Morciano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Lockdown restrictions in a pandemic may slow viral transmission but disrupt livelihoods and lifestyles that might induce harmful behavior changes, including problematic lockdown drinking fueled by cheap alcohol. Exploiting differences amongst the four constituent countries of the United Kingdom, we use triple difference analysis on alcohol retail sales to examine the efficacy of minimum unit pricing as a price control device to help curb excessive consumption following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. We find the policy is remarkably effective and well-targeted in reducing demand for cheap alcohol, with minimal spillover effects, and consumers overall buying and spending less.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEconomic Inquiry
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 25 Apr 2024


  • Pandemic
  • Lockdown
  • Price control
  • Minimum Unit Pricing
  • Alcohol
  • Excessive consumption

Cite this