Drink….make money?

I’ve recently been researching alcohol consumption trends in the United States and came across some information that, well, is interesting:

People who consume alcohol make more money than abstainers.

To be specific, a study published in the Journal of Health Economics in 1998 found:

U.S. males who drink alcohol make  7% higher wages than do abstainer.
Women who drink receive about three
                and one-half percent higher wages than do abstainers.

No, it’s not a significant amount more, but it does appear that there is another benefit to moderate drinking. The question here, is why? Why should drinkers end up being paid more. I have no answer for this question.

But, it goes to the reality that in the United States wine drinkers tend to be healthier, better off financially and better educated than non-wine drinkers. Clearly these benefits are not the result of drinking wine, but traits of people who drink wine. As more people take up wine drinking, the disparity in income, health and education between wine drinkers and non-wine drinkers will diminish.

Yet, still, in America, drinking wine remains something that many people associate with a "lifestyle". This is not the same for beer drinking or spirit drinking. There are no magazines that capitalize on the "beer drinking" or "Beer Country" lifestyle.

Posted In: Culture and Wine


4 Responses

  1. Derrick Schneider - February 6, 2006

    Is there anything more to this than the simple notion that if you have more money, you can spend it on more things? People with lower incomes might not drink as much because they can’t afford to. I suppose until you get to the homeless, etc. who have little money but drink lots. But that’s a different set of variables (dulling pain + addiction, etc.).

  2. tom - February 6, 2006

    That’s the first thing I thought of too. But then thinking about it, you’ve always been able to find cheap, decent wine if price is the issue. And I’m not talking about Thunderbird. The Gallo Jugs were always very reasonable. And even today, you’ve got a ton of perfectly drinkable wines for well under $5 a bottle.
    I think it’s a cultural/societal thing. I think it has to do with the associations that have been made with wine, by both high income and low income people.

  3. Rory C. Berger - February 6, 2006

    Hold on a minute… is this about alcohol or wine? The numbers you gave simply reference alcohol, but you drew your conclusions based around wine.
    Nonetheless, I think your broader point about cause vs. effect is worthy. The “lifestyle” argument falls apart when you see people buying case upon case of bud light and cheap vodka, but something along the lines that people with high paying jobs suffer from more stress, and thus tend to drink more on their time off might make sense. Not to mention things like the proverbial three martini lunch and business trips with an honor bar and an expense account.

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