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October 24, 2021

Shaky economy may drive more more people to drink: study

Past research has suggested that economic downturns mean less money for potentially unhealthy behaviours, such as smoking or excessive drinking.

AdAfter all, alcohol is expensive, so people are less able to afford it when they lose their jobs and money is short.

But a new study out of the University of Miami suggests that, rather than actually cut back, more people are likely to drown their financial sorrows in a down economy.

The study also discovered that binge drinking increased with a rise in the state-level unemployment rate. Driving while intoxicated and alcohol abuse and dependence also increased for both genders and across ethnic groups.

The study found that each 1% increase in the unemployment rate corresponded to a nearly 17% increase in cases of alcoholism or alcohol abuse and a 35% increase in rates of drunk driving.

*Bing: Why do people drink to excess?

Even individuals who are employed have more binge drinking days and are more likely to drive after having too much to drink during a bad economy, says Dr. Michael French.

Among the study’s other findings: Those aged between 18 and 24 years displaying the largest binge-drinking effect. At the same time, bingeing is more common as the educational level and income of individuals increase.

With unemployment on the rise and likely to stay high for awhile, alcohol abuse programs should prepare for an increased demand for their services, the researchers predict.

What's your experience? Is this pattern valid? Do tough times mean more drinking?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money




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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...