Describe the consequences of Prohibition.

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There were a number of consequences of Prohibition.  These can be separated out by type of consequence.

First, let us look at economic consequences.  Prohibition actually harmed the American economy to some degree.  Many people had thought that Prohibition would simply shift spending from alcohol to more productive things and other types of entertainment would prosper.  Instead, the main economic consequences of Prohibition were negative.  Governments lost huge amounts of revenue that had come from taxing alcohol.  Large numbers of legal jobs in the making, transport, and selling of alcohol were lost.  These consequences were quite serious, particularly in the later years of Prohibition when the Great Depression was in full swing.

Second, let us look at social and political consequences.  Politically, Prohibition reduced people’s respect for the law and the government.  The fact that a constitutional amendment was being so widely ignored made a mockery of the idea of law and order.  The idea that people should obey the law simply became weaker.  Socially, there were two major consequences.  First, people actually people started to drink more.  They also drank more dangerous things and many people died each year from drinking unsafe alcohol.  Second, and most importantly, organized crime became a big business.  Gangsters came to dominate the illegal alcohol industry, thus creating powerful crime organizations that have never fully been eradicated. 

Prohibition, then, had many negative consequences of various sorts.