The methodology of the study is obscured in the article, but I’m happy to accept the conclusion of the authors that consuming alcohol leads to higher income. Economics professor Edward Stringham and researcher Bethany Peters argue that drinking causes people to develop social capital, increasing their long-term earnings:
“Social drinkers are out networking, building relationships, and adding contacts to their BlackBerries that result in bigger paychecks.”
The authors acknowledged their study, funded by the Reason Foundation, a libertarian think tank, contradicted research released in 2000 by the Harvard School of Public Health…
“Drinkers may be able to socialize more with clients and co-workers, giving drinkers an advantage in important relationships,” the researchers said.
“Drinking may also provide individuals with opportunities to learn people, business, and social skills.”
They also said these conclusions provide arguments against policies aimed at curbing alcohol use on university campuses and public venues.
“Not only do anti-alcohol policies reduce drinkers’ fun, but they may also decrease earnings,” the study said.
“One of the unintended consequences of alcohol restrictions is that they push drinking into private settings. This occurred during the Alcohol Prohibition of 1920-1933 and is happening on college campuses today. By preventing people from drinking in public, anti-alcohol policies eliminate one of the most important aspects of drinking: increased social capital.”
Hat tip to Jeff, who says, “If you need me, I’ll be on my back porch drinking a fifth of whiskey and waiting for the money to roll in.”