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Study Says Liberals Drink More Than Conservatives

Feb 03, 14 Study Says Liberals Drink More Than Conservatives

While the partisan bickering in Washington might drive many to drink, a new study conducted by the Journal of Wine Economics and published by the Cambridge University Press found that “alcohol consumption in American states rises as the population’s political persuasion becomes more liberal.”

The study, which was conducted by Pavel Yakovlev and Walter P. Guessford of Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Penn., found that there could be a direct correlation between political beliefs and drinking habits.

“Recent research in psychology and sociology has established a connection between political beliefs and unhealthy behaviors such as excessive alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drug consumption,” the authors wrote in the study’s abstract. “In this study, we estimate the relationship between political ideology and the demand for beer, wine, and spirits using a longitudinal panel of fifty U.S. states from 1952 to 2010. Controlling for various socioeconomic factors and unobserved heterogeneity, we find that when a state becomes more liberal politically, its consumption of beer and spirits rises, while its consumption of wine may fall. Our findings suggest that political beliefs are correlated with the demand for alcohol.”

The study examined the sale of alcoholic beverages and compared these to the political leanings of a state’s member of Congress. The study found that those states with more liberal representatives – such as Nevada – tended to consumer up to three times as much alcohol per head than more politically conservative states such as Arkansas and Utah.

“Such a large difference in alcohol consumption can be attributed, in part, to Nevada’s entertainment industry (specifically in Las Vegas) and Utah’s large and socially conservative Mormon population,” the authors added.

However, the findings may also suggest that liberals may be more open to new experiences, which include the consumption of alcohol and use of drugs, but also considered that those in liberal states had more confidence in the government health care and social welfare – which could be there to help those with drinking issues that lead to health or social problems.

The authors looked at so-called unhealthy behaviors in other countries, and noted that past sociological studies have also examined whether ideological beliefs can establish a pattern of acceptable behaviors including alcohol consumption. Some left wing governments never looked to demonize behaviors such as the drinking of alcohol.

“The Soviet Union taught people to de-emphasize individual health concerns because the government (society) would take care of them if they fell ill,” the authors also noted, and cited a past study that suggested that “pro-socialists were significantly more likely than anti-socialists to drink alcohol frequently. They attribute the detrimental health practices of the pro-socialists to the ideology of state socialism, in which the state assumed responsibility for individual health care.”

This particular study utilized panel data to estimate the effect that political ideology may have on the per-capita consumption of beer, wine and spirits and the authors looked at a dataset that included a longitudinal panel of all U.S. states from 1952 to 2010.

This is likely far from the final word on the subject, as even the authors noted, “that further research is needed to explore the relationship between political beliefs and other unhealthy behaviors in future.”

Image Credit: Thinkstock

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