Feature

Does booze boost the economy?

“Despite the stereotype of blue-collar workers as heavy drinkers,” countries with “white-collar, knowledge-based economies” show a higher prevalence of drinking, said Richard Florida in TheAtlantic.com.

Richard Florida
TheAtlantic.com

“Many countries—like many barflies—take a perverse pride in their thirsts,” said Richard Florida. But boasts aside, which country “can put away the most booze?” A recent report from the World Health Organization supplies the answer: Take a bow, Moldova, where the average citizen consumes 4.8 gallons of alcohol annually. The U.S. is “relatively abstemious” by comparison, with an annual per capita alcohol consumption of 2.5 gallons, which qualifies it for “56th most bibulous nation on earth.”

But what’s really surprising about the report are the statistical correlations between a nation’s tippling habits and its economy. For example, “despite the stereotype of blue-collar workers as heavy drinkers,” countries with “white-collar, knowledge-based economies” show a higher prevalence of drinking. Likewise “drinking is more prevalent in nations with highly educated populations.” Most surprising of all, perhaps, is the finding that happier nations—as measured by factors including divorce, suicide rates, and incidence of mental illness—“quaff more than unhappy ones.” Now all that’s left to figure out is whether happiness is the cause of all that boozing, or the effect.

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