Drink more to earn more

Sep 18 2006 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Want to earn more? Try going out and having a few beers.

Drinkers earn 10 to 14 per cent more money than nondrinkers and men who drink socially, visiting a bar at least once a month, bring home an additional seven per cent in pay, according to a new study by libertarian think-tank, the Reason Foundation>

The report, No Booze? You May Lose, found that the average male drinker earns 21 per cent more than the average male abstainer whereas the average female drinker earns eight per cent more than the average female abstainer.

"Social drinking builds social capital," said Edward Stringham, an economics professor at San Jose State University and co-author of the report.

"Social drinkers are networking, building relationships, and adding contacts to their Blackberries that result in bigger paychecks."

Some aspects of social capital Ė described in the report as "a person's social characteristics, including social skills, charisma, and the size of his Rolodex, which enable him to reap market and nonmarket returns from interactions with others" - might be innate, but people can enhance others, such as Rolodex size, Stringham argues.

In other words, if social drinking increases social capital, social drinking could also increase earnings.

The study found that men who drink earn 10 per cent more than abstainers and women drinkers earn 14 per cent more than nondrinkers.

But unlike men, who get an additional income boost from drinking in bars, women who frequent bars at least once per month do not show higher earnings than women who do not visit bars.

The study, published in the latest edition of the Journal of Labor Research, argues that the growing wave of anti-alcohol legislation at state and local levels in the U.S. could therefore have harmful effects on local economies and individual finances.

Efforts to impose massive tax increases on alcohol, to restrict alcohol sales through zoning laws, and prohibit alcohol advertisements have all been stepped up in recent years.

"We're quick to ban beer at sports stadiums and festivals. The legal blood alcohol level is dropping everywhere, and we're barraged with overhyped warnings about binge and underage drinking," Stringham said.

"Instead of fear mongering we should step back and acknowledge the proven health and economic benefits that come with the responsible use of alcohol."