Is Drinking Good for Your Wallet As Well As Your Heart?

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A new study from the Reason Foundation (which publishes Reason magazine) notes that drinkers earn more than teetotalers and speculates that the difference is due to the connections they make during alcohol-enhanced socializing. The authors, economists Edward Stringham of San Jose University and Bethany Peters of the Dallas-based Analysis Group, support this hypothesis by showing that drinking in bars (as opposed to at home) is associated with an additional earnings edge among men (but not among women).

Of course, it could just be that more gregarious people are both more likely to be social drinkers and more likely to get good jobs, win promotions, and close deals. Still, I appreciate the effort to illuminate the positive effects of drinking, given the relentlessly negative focus of public health officials, anti-alcohol activists, and most academics. The study, which also was published in The Journal of Labor Research, got respectful coverage from CNN and the Los Angeles Times, among others.

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  1. Or guys who make more money are more willing to spend 5 dollars on a beer…

  2. I thought it couldn’t get any worse than the recent “taller = smarter” gobbledygook. Guess I was wrong.

  3. I was just about to say what Toxic did…

    When I was a poor college student, I didn’t have $20-$50 to blow at a club on a given night. Now that I’m a middle-class yuppie exec, I do. Correlation does not imply causation.

  4. What is abundantly clear is that drinkers have a mechanism by which they can release stress. Those who don’t have such a mechanism are unable to cope with the stress of a high power job. I’m making this up entirely.

  5. Calling The Wine CommonSewer…

  6. Interesting. From the same author (Bethany Peters):
    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=872738
    “We also demonstrate some evidence of a positive association between alcohol prices and the earnings of full-time workers. We conclude that most likely the positive association between drinking and earnings is the result of the fact that ethanol is a normal commodity, the consumption of which increases with income, rather than an elixer that enhances productivity.”

    Of course, that still leaves the chance of bar-drinking as social networking, although it could just be general extroversion causing both. Must read the study…

  7. I’ll drink to that.

  8. The correlation is not between buying beers and more money but the socializing that takes happens in places that sell beer. The more you socialize the more connections you make. In some professions the number of contacts do correlate to the amount in your paycheck.

    The moral of the story is that when you socialize, you make opprotunities that were not previously available. That’s a no-brainer. I hope Reason didn’t pay much for that research.

    My dad once said. “You would be surprised how many deals I closed in a strip bar”

    Wait a moment…. Wasn’t there a recent article about the study of no-brainers?

  9. The correlation is not between buying beers and more money but the socializing that takes happens in places that sell beer. The more you socialize the more connections you make. In some professions the number of contacts do correlate to the amount in your paycheck.

    Promotions usually happen from office politics not good work. If your drinking with the boss it might help you later.

    The moral of the story is that when you socialize,(places with beer is where adults do) you make opprotunities that were not previously available. That’s a no-brainer. I hope Reason didn’t pay much for that research.

    My dad once said. “You would be surprised how many deals I closed in a strip bar”

    Wait a moment…. Wasn’t there a recent article about the study of no-brainers?

  10. The correlation is not between buying beers and more money but the socializing that takes happens in places that sell beer. The more you socialize the more connections you make. In some professions the number of contacts do correlate to the amount in your paycheck.

    Promotions usually happen from office politics not good work. If your drinking with the boss it might help you later.

    The moral of the story is that when you socialize,(places with beer is where adults do) you make opprotunities that were not previously available. That’s a no-brainer. I hope Reason didn’t pay much for that research.

    My dad once said. “You would be surprised how many deals I closed in a strip bar”

    Wait a moment…. Wasn’t there a recent article about the study of no-brainers?

  11. The correlation is not between buying beers and more money but the socializing that takes happens in places that sell beer. The more you socialize the more connections you make. In some professions the number of contacts do correlate to the amount in your paycheck.

    Promotions usually happen from office politics not good work. If your drinking with the boss it might help you later.

    The moral of the story is that when you socialize,(places with beer is where adults do) you make opprotunities that were not previously available. That’s a no-brainer. I hope Reason didn’t pay much for that research.

    My dad once said. “You would be surprised how many deals I closed in a strip bar”

    Wait a moment…. Wasn’t there a recent article about the study of no-brainers?

  12. LOL, sorry guys and gals. It was giving me server not found errors.

  13. Trickyvic

    I think I see a correlation between tired server squirrels and repeating oneself. [Anecdotal, of course.]

  14. I think the server squirrels read the study and then went off for a liquid lunch… well, I got news for you, mates – it doesn’t apply to virtual rodents.

  15. I’m a teetotaller and I have a lame job and couldn’t close a deal if my life depended on it.

    Looks like you guys are on to something 🙂

  16. As a tall drunk, I can assure you that all the rumors about my kind are all true.

    We’re also much more likely to run into short door frames on friday nights.

  17. From the 2004 NSDUH,

    Full-time employment among

    Lifetime adult users: 65.9%
    Past year adult users: 67.5%
    Past month adult users: 68.9%
    Former adult users: 58.8%
    Adult non-users of this drug: 50.3%

    (cause-effect hypothesis not supplied)

  18. It is also true that owners of yachts make more money than people who don’t own them. I speculate this is due to the increased likelihood of finding treasure chests.

  19. Why publish a study to tell us what beer commercials have made clear for years? Of course beer will make you more successful. After all, it’s beer! Hooray beer!

  20. It is also true that owners of yachts make more money than people who don’t own them. I speculate this is due to the increased likelihood of finding treasure chests.

  21. This is really just a test to see if we rag on Jacob Sullum for blogging this bogus study. They’re splitting the H&R readers randomly with the other half seeing the study as having been blogged by Ron Bailey.

    This worthy experiment might have yielded good data had it not been pointed out on Grylliade.

  22. The next study will be on the question,
    Can alcohol help ugly people to get laid?

  23. Makes me wanna be a smokehound.

  24. I’m having a difficult time believing the study eliminated enough confounding variables to attribute the income differential to anything at all.

    Philosophical teetotalers are pretty rare, and are concentrated among certain populations in the South, midwest, and Utah, all of which have lower-than-median incomes.

    Sober alcoholics are people who have had enough bad things happen to their lives to convince them to go into rehab or AA.

    I think it’s a little more likely that things that cause people to be teetotalers are also things that lower your income.

  25. It’s not that drinking makes you more successful – the important point this study makes is that drinking does not automatically make you an alcoholic loser sleeping in a gutter wrapped around a 40 of Steel Reserve. Which is contrary to what those who push prohibitive/restrictive alcohol laws would have us believe.

    Recreational alcohol use is not something we need to be protected from. It’s not a shocker (to reasonable people), but it doesn’t hurt to have a little more data to back that up.

  26. joe, there is a distinction to be made between abstention for philosophical reasons and abstention for doctrinal reasons. I hope you’re not making your assertions based on some notion of religious demographic distribution.

    If you have some data to back up your assertions, please share them with us.

  27. alcohol good only in little quantity

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