Alcohol and Health

Conclusion

Economists have contributed greatly to the study of alcohol availability, alcohol consumption, and alcohol regulation. Key to the economics framework is a complete accounting of both the costs and the benefits of drinking, which has important implications for government intervention to correct negative externalities associated with alcohol consumption. Economists have also distinguished themselves among the social and public health sciences by advancing methodological rigor with respect to causal inference. Arguably the strongest consistent finding in the broad economics literature on alcohol is that demand curves for alcohol slope downward: increases in the price of alcohol (broadly defined to include increases in both monetary prices and other nonmonetary costs of drinking) are negatively associated with the probability and frequency of drinking and with the quantity of alcohol consumed. Research has also credibly demonstrated that alcohol availability and alcohol consumption are causally related to increased risk of premature death, and there is growing evidence that drinking also causes individuals to be at increased risk for nonfatal injury, crime, and risky sexual behavior. More work is needed to understand whether and to what extent alcohol may have causal effects of improving (rather than harming) some health and social outcomes, as well as to understand the extent and nature of heterogeneity in the effects of alcohol control policies on drinking and health outcomes.

Bibliography:

  1. Becker, G. S., Grossman, M. and Murphy, K. M. (1991). Rational addiction and the effect of price on consumption. American Economic Review 81, 237–241.
  2. Becker, G. S. and Murphy, K. M. (1988). A theory of rational addiction. Journal of Political Economy 96, 675–700.
  3. Bonnie, R. J. and O’Connell, M. E. (eds.) (2004). Reducing underage drinking: A collective responsibility. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
  4. Carpenter, C. and Dobkin, C. (2011a). The minimum legal drinking age and public health. Journal of Economic Perspectives 25, 133–156.
  5. Carpenter, C. and Dobkin, C. (2011b). Alcohol regulation and crime. In Cook, P., Ludwig, J. and McCrary, J. (eds.) Controlling crime: Strategies and tradeoffs, pp. 291–329. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  6. Chaloupka, F. J., Grossman, M. and Saffer, H. (2002). The effects of price on alcohol consumption and alcohol-related problems. NIAAA publication. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12154648/.
  7. Cook, P. J. (2010). Paying the tab: The costs and benefits of alcohol control. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  8. Cook, P. J. and Moore, M. J. (2000). Alcohol. In Cuyler, A. J. and Newhouse, J. P. (eds.) Handbook of health economics, vol. 1b, pp. 1629–1673. USA: Elsevier Science and Technology and North Holland.
  9. Cook, P. J. and Moore, M. J. (2002). The economics of alcohol abuse and alcoholcontrol policies. Health Affairs 21, 120–133.
  10. Dee, T. S. (1999). State alcohol policies, teen drinking and traffic fatalities. Journal of Public Economics 72, 289–315.
  11. Grossman, M. (1972). On the concept of health capital and the demand for health. Journal of Political Economy 80, 223–255.
  12. Grossman, M. (2005). Individual behaviors and substance use: The role of price. In Lindgren, B. and Grossman, M. (eds.) Substance use: Individual behavior, social interaction, markets and politics, pp. 15–39. Amsterdam: JAI, an Imprint of Elsevier Ltd.
  13. Manning, W. G., Keller, E. B., Newhouse, J. P., Sloss, E. M. and Wasserman, J. (1989). The taxes of sin: Do smokers and drinkers pay their way? Journal of the American Medical Association 261, 1604–1609.
  14. Wagenaar, A. C., Salois, M. J. and Komro, K. A. (2009). Effects of beverage alcohol price and tax levels on drinking: A meta-analysis of 1003 estimates from 112 studies. Addiction 104, 179–190.
  15. World Health Organization (2011). Global status report on alcohol and health. Geneva: World Health Organization Press.
  16. https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/ National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
Health at Advanced Ages
Education and Health