August 12th, 2011
04:22 PM ET

More educated people spend more on booze

Matt Yglesias highlights the following U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics trivia fact that educational attainment is strongly correlated with alcohol expenditures:

Yglesias asks whether that means people with many years of schooling are drinking more or just drinking fancier stuff.

James Joyner speculated:

Increasing levels of education correlates with increased income and, presumably, more disposable income. As people attain more education and income, they’re likely to switch from cheap beer (Miller Lite) and cheap booze (Seagrams gin, Jim Beam bourbon) to better and more expensive beer (say, Dogfish Head 120) and booze (Bombay Sapphire gin, Macallan 12 Scotch). Also, they’ll drink wine that comes in bottles not boxes. Additionally, they’ll be more likely to drink at bars and pricey restaurants, thinking nothing of paying $6 for a pint of beer, $9 for a glass of wine, or $12 for a cocktail. Alternatively – and not exclusive of the above–they’re more likely to have high stress jobs and drink on a daily basis.

Then Kevin Drum dug up some data from the Bureau of Labor statistics, which showed that weekly alcohol expenditures increase strongly with income. Here's how it breaks down:

  • Expenditures on beer double between the lowest and highest income quintiles.
  • Expenditures on wine quintuple.
  • Expenditures on "other" (mostly mixed drinks, I assume) also quintuple.
  • Expenditures on alcohol consumed at home go up 170% while expenditures on alcohol consumed elsewhere go up 600%.

Kevin's conclusion: "...wealthier people might drink more alcohol than poor people, but probably not by much. Mostly they just buy more expensive stuff at home as well as more pricey drinks in bars and restaurants."

Does that sound right to you?

Post by:
Topics: Culture

soundoff (121 Responses)
  1. Bryan Short

    How is this at all surprising? I'd also bet that income, home size, and car value rise with education as well! This says nothing about actual alcohol consumption.

    August 12, 2011 at 8:29 pm | Reply
  2. gonzo

    would like to see ounces of booze consumed per $ spent on booze, broken out by BLS occupantional code.

    August 12, 2011 at 8:31 pm | Reply
  3. Jimbo

    From reading the comments I know that I'm not the only one thinking: Wait! That's the annual figure, not the monthly figure? Uh oh. OK; yes, it's probably stress... some... at least slightly noble thing.

    August 12, 2011 at 8:47 pm | Reply
  4. cosmicsnoop

    Did Captain Obvious order this study? Anyway, it is true. My wife is a nurse and works for several doctors and I do love going to their parties and going out with them. Only the best stuff. Otherwise I don't really drink much as I have too much to do. I just spend my cash on the herb.

    August 12, 2011 at 8:48 pm | Reply
  5. pastafaria

    Wow, who would have guessed that. What's next, a study that shows that a person who earns more than $500,000 a year is likely to live in a bigger house than someone who earns less than $20,000 a year.

    August 12, 2011 at 8:50 pm | Reply
  6. Jimbo

    Upon further thought, I've realized that apparently... I should soon be granted an honorary doctorate.

    August 12, 2011 at 8:53 pm | Reply
  7. Anne Miller

    I'm not a doctor, but I drink like one!

    August 12, 2011 at 8:53 pm | Reply
  8. gvbareeba

    Shot of listerine anyone?

    August 12, 2011 at 9:04 pm | Reply
  9. Paul F

    And your point is?? Spend your time on something important.

    August 12, 2011 at 9:08 pm | Reply
  10. Nick

    It sounds to me like we're wasting tax dollars on these useless studies! The voting public is responsible. They need to stop going to the polls drunk!

    August 12, 2011 at 9:12 pm | Reply
  11. James

    Frank Sinatra: " I feel sorry for people who don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day."

    August 12, 2011 at 9:22 pm | Reply
  12. Jennifer

    I have the answer. We "Advanced Degree" people just need to get more schnookered more often so we can forget that we are up to our eyeballs in student loan debt.

    August 12, 2011 at 9:22 pm | Reply
  13. mike_t

    More income, better toys. (Why is this news?)

    I'll bet people with more educuation drive more expensive cars and smoke better cigars, too.

    August 12, 2011 at 9:31 pm | Reply
  14. maria

    Never thought I drank like a PHD...LOL..

    August 12, 2011 at 9:34 pm | Reply
  15. Will

    Garbage in, garbage out. I haven't seen the study, but I can guarantee that the data are trash. I have yet to meet a social scientist with a lick of sense...

    August 12, 2011 at 9:39 pm | Reply
  16. Chandler

    I think a better measure would be how much alcohol is CONSUMED per level of education. After all, you can just about buy a keg of PBR for the price of a bottle of Dom.

    August 12, 2011 at 9:52 pm | Reply
  17. Cory

    As another person said on this....Cuz they realize they get screwed. Definitely. Usually people who drink booze are miserable. USUALLY.

    August 12, 2011 at 9:55 pm | Reply
  18. Mick

    Okay. We have a study that says people with more education spend more on booze. Not too surprising...a bottle of fine cabernet at a fancy restaurant with a 200% markup will set you back more than a six pack of Bud chugged while sitting in front of the tube. And another study that says people with a higher income spend more on booze...even less surprising. So the question is, of course, are the more afluent people drinking more, or just drinking fancier stuff? There's absolutely nothing in the studies to answer that question. Useless studies...stupid article!

    August 12, 2011 at 9:58 pm | Reply
  19. Zed Fitzpatrick

    My Mother used to say the only difference between rich drunks and poor drunks was the rich drunks paid more for their liquor.

    August 12, 2011 at 10:07 pm | Reply
  20. nsaner

    Pretty sure they just have more money to spend and usually more brain stressful jobs

    August 12, 2011 at 10:09 pm | Reply
  21. Eric

    Now do it properly, as a percentage of overall income, and I bet you'll see an incredibly steep decline as education increases.

    August 12, 2011 at 10:19 pm | Reply
    • Bill

      $600 for beer is certainly a larger % of income for lower economic people. It doesnt take a genious to figure out that income goes up with education. Im so glad I make enough so that I don't have to drink Miller lite!

      August 12, 2011 at 10:45 pm | Reply
  22. archimedes109

    Before I finished my undergraduate work, I spent six days per week, 12 hour shifts, in the production facility of a biotechnology company. I still didn't make very much. Now, with grad school behind me, I make three times as much money, and work a third less.

    Wow, what a shocker; I have more free time, and more money...I'll bet educated people spend more on cars, too. Am I alone in feeling a little insulted by this article? Here's another interesting piece of trivia worth highlighting, while we're at it. The Alpine Banana Slug has the longest reproductive organ in the animal kingdom, with respect to its size...

    August 12, 2011 at 10:23 pm | Reply
  23. Bill

    NOw that I am retired, I have had the time to put my income and advanced degrees to work– all in the name of helping out the wheat farmers of America and the economy in general.

    I have perfected the process of turning beer wine and alchohol into urine. There is not a sector of the economy that has not been positively effected by this work. Oduma should be thanking me for my contributions to our economy!

    August 12, 2011 at 10:43 pm | Reply
  24. Jimmy-Bob

    And the more money you make, the more you will likely spend on your home, clothes, cars, jewelry, vacations, golf clubs, electronics, beds, food, wedding....

    August 12, 2011 at 10:51 pm | Reply
  25. Jon

    They really needed to do a study to determine that people who make more money drink better beer??? I could have told you that... we didn't drink canned miller lite in college because its "tastes great, less filling". we just didn't the financial means to drink real beer.

    August 12, 2011 at 10:54 pm | Reply
  26. Wayne

    Dang. Just spilled my beer on my CPU. Does replacing a beer soaked computer count as a booze expense?

    August 12, 2011 at 11:01 pm | Reply
  27. DoctorSchlitz

    I am sure there is a PhD out there who likes to wash down a couple of hot pockets with a six pack of genesee cream ale.

    August 12, 2011 at 11:11 pm | Reply
  28. Tom

    I have a Bachelor's Degree and my wife has a Master's Degree and she does drink just a bit more than I do.

    August 12, 2011 at 11:15 pm | Reply
  29. CrapBull

    Well no duh! I sure as heck hope that tax payer $$ did not fund this study, any half edumicated nitwit coulda told you this!

    August 12, 2011 at 11:29 pm | Reply
  30. Nitchka465mj

    CHEERS, SPEND more not DRINK more!
    I have a bar that would shock most people, however my use of said bar is limited to at most 2 drinks a week, it is difficult to be productive while nursing a hangover, I learned this early in life. My liver is still recovering from university days.
    PROOF-! 3 bootles of my favorite scotch and the yearly budget of $600 been blown, if I was looking for a BUZZ then go for $4 box wine, the $600 would net you almost half a box a day. Headlines can be misleading, understand what you read!

    August 12, 2011 at 11:50 pm | Reply
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