More Unintended Consequences: Shutdowns, Alcohol, and Domestic Violence

The good news… Rapidly declining COVID-19 cases in Virginia

by James A. Bacon

As the number of COVID-19 vaccinations administered in Virginia passes the two million mark, new COVID-19 cases in Virginia are falling off rapidly. We can look forward to the day when fear of the virus will be a distant memory. But the damage wrought by the virus — or, to be more accurate, wrought by the lockdowns prompted by the virus — will linger with us for years. Perhaps for  lifetimes.

The impact on young children, compelled to learn in an online environment for which they are ill suited, has been well documented. A distressingly high percentage of students, consisting disproportionately of lower-income minorities, has fallen significantly behind academically. Whether they ever catch up is anybody’s guess. But sociologists already are speculating about the long-term cost of lower educational achievement as reflected by higher dropout rates, increased criminality, lost employment, and lower lifetime wages.

There may be an even more insidious, more damaging effect of the lockdowns: increased domestic violence and childhood trauma.

As the authors of a new study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research write, “Given the psychosocial malleability of children, domestic violence has profound implications for their cognitive and social development. Sadly, this burden compounds itself generation after generation, becoming an engine for the intergenerational transmission of violence.”

Recent scholarship has documented a notable increase in domestic violence in the United States since March 2020, as well as in several other countries, write the authors of “COVID-19 Has Strengthened the Relationship Between Alcohol Consumption and Domestic Violence. The study’s authors build on that research by examining the role of alcohol. “Consumption of alcohol has become more risky,” they suggest, “as the venue of consumption has shifted into homes, leading to increased intra-personal conflict.” 

Using cellphone data to track the patronage of bars , restaurants and liquor stores in Detroit as well as 911 emergency calls, the authors examined the effects of the stay-at-home order issued by Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. 

Prior to the pandemic, liquor stores accounted for approximately 30% of alcohol sales, they found. By May 2020, liquor-store market share had zoomed to 70%.

Stay-at-home orders have mechanically increased the amount of time that people are spending at home. As such, the opportunity for problematic drinking to lead to family violence has increased. … It appears as though the pandemic has caused a substitution of violence away from acquaintances and strangers and toward family members.

The authors do not examine the link between domestic abuse and socioeconomic status, other than to suggest in passing that the loss of jobs and income add to domestic stress that contributes to violence. But it is widely acknowledged that the impact of the COVID lockdowns has differed by industry and occupation. Knowledge workers who can telecommute from home have suffered far less than workers whose jobs were closed by lockdowns. It is reasonable to conjecture, as many have, that lower-income and minority households have been impacted disproportionately.

Thus, COVID lockdowns have aggravated preexisting social inequalities in at least three ways. First, the shuttering of the economy has harmed poor and minority families disproportionately. Second, the switch from in-person classrooms to online learning has caused poor and minority families to fall behind academically more than others. And third, restricting access to restaurants and bars has shifted alcohol consumption from outside the home to within the home, giving rise to more domestic violence and creating more childhood trauma. Domestic trauma can linger with children for years, affecting their behavior at school, resulting in lower educational achievement and all the rest that follows in its wake.

These resulting economic and racial inequities are not the result of deeply embedded “systemic racism” that traces its origins back to slavery and segregation. They are the result of specific policies flogged by woke media outlets and adopted most enthusiastically in Blue States by woke governors without regard to the consequences. The media, politicians and indeed virtually the entire cultural elite fixated on mitigating COVID to the exclusion of all other concerns. “Fifteen days to flatten the curve” become a year-long experiment in enforced economic deprivation and social isolation. We are only beginning to measure the adverse consequences of what our “rule by experts” has engendered.

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8 responses to “More Unintended Consequences: Shutdowns, Alcohol, and Domestic Violence”

  1. LarrytheG Avatar

    Do Google on “Online learning is here to stay” – to understand the changes that are going forward, not back.

    The folks on the right are conflating six ways from Sunday from their “rights” to the economic damage from the shutdown, to “violence”, to suicide, and much much more.

    As bad a rap as virtual schooling has gotten, people forget, we already had a budding industry in virtual from companies like to many competitors that serve not only home schoolers, but homebound kids, kids on suspension, credit recovery and now actually using it to provide courses to kids their schools don’t offer and supplemental help to kids who need it.

    No, it’s not perfect and like a lot of things, there are appropriate uses and inappropriate but the bottom line – it’s not going away – it’s going to expand.

    And a lot of the “anti” blather will fade away or morph into some other “outrage”! 😉

    1. dick dyas Avatar
      dick dyas

      Poor counter argument. Best stick with the topics that are not quantifiable.

    2. Supposedly near 3,000,000 kids have not had any classes since March 2020. I doubt those are in households in Fairfax or on the Cape.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        How many kids have been homeschooled for years with nary a nervous breakdown, suicide or “abuse”.

        sorta like two different worlds , eh?

      2. LarrytheG Avatar

        How many kids have been homeschooled for years with nary a nervous breakdown, suicide or “abuse”.

        sorta like two different worlds , eh?

        1. Yep. Supportive parents who can afford single income households or can work from home vs. the real blue collar world outside upper class Metro bubbles

      3. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
        James Wyatt Whitehead

        It is worse than 3 million. You have to factor in the millions of youngsters in virtual learning who had their cameras off and doing who knows what instead.

  2. So lock downs were racists policies designed to destroy the educational opportunities of children of color, decrease the earning potential of lower income people of color, and increase alcoholism and domestic violence in households of color. Who knew Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer was such a successful white supremacist? Will the FBI be coming for her?

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