A sobering new study published by the Journal of Wine Economics — yes, there is a Journal of Wine Economics — finds that alcohol consumption in American states rises as the population’s politics becomes more liberal.
The study by Pavel Yakovlev and Walter P. Guessford of Duquesne University in Pennsylvania shows a direct correlation between political beliefs and the demand for alcohol. The study compares sales of alcoholic beverages against the political leanings of a state's members of Congress, as ranked by liberal organizations Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) and the AFL-CIO Committee on Political Education (COPE).
The research reveals that states with more liberal representatives like Nevada tend to consume up to three times more alcohol per head than more politically conservative states like Arkansas and Utah:
The study concludes:
In this study, we show that liberal ideology has a statistically significant positive association with the consumption of alcohol in the United States even after controlling for economic, demographic, and geographic differences across states.
These findings are consistent with other recent studies in other parts of the world showing that people with socialist views tend to drink more.
One 2002 study found that Russian socialists were significantly more likely than anti-socialists to drink alcohol frequently. Another 2006 survey of Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine found that adults with anti-communist views were less likely to drink, smoke, or take drugs than their pro-communist peers.
The authors of this latest study offer two theories to explain this divergence in behavior. One possibility is that people of a more liberal persuasion tend to be more open to new experiences, such as the consumption of alcohol or drugs. Another possibility is that people living in more liberal states or countries may feel more confident in government health care and social welfare to pick up the pieces if drinking leads to health or social problems.