Alcohol and Health


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.


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Health at Advanced Ages
Education and Health