Estimates of employment gains attributable to beer legalization in spring 1933

Eline Poelmans, Jason E. Taylor, Samuel Raisanen, Andrew C. Holt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In April 1933, eight months prior to the end of Prohibition, states within the US gained the ability to legalize 3.2 percent alcohol beer. Proponents of legalization predicted that the brewer's dray would bring jobs along with beer. We estimate that legalization brought around 81,000 jobs between April and June of 1933, 60,000 of which were created in April, when the nation emerged from the trough of the Great Depression. This suggests that around 5.6 percent of nationwide non-agricultural spring employment gains, and around 15 percent of April job gains, were associated with beer legalization. Thus, this very early New Deal policy played an important supporting role in helping the nation turn the corner toward recovery.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101427
JournalExplorations in Economic History
StatePublished - Apr 2022


  • Beer
  • Employment
  • Great depression
  • Legalization
  • New deal
  • Recovery


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