I didn’t believe it at first

…we conjecture that binge drinking conveys unobserved social skills that are rewarded by employers.

Here is the full and very carefully done paper.  I’ve known for a while there is a correlation between drinking and wages, but only recently have I started thinking it might be more than a trick in the data.  The effect disappears for women, once educational attainment is taken into account.  So should you encourage your sons to drink, so as to learn rituals of social bonding, or is their binging simply a signal of sociability?  I’ll note, by the way, that I am a not very social person who also doesn’t drink much, verging on not at all.

Addendum: Andrew Gelman has much more to say on the topic.


I only read the abstract, but I'd guess the authors mean that more popular males who received more party invites (and thus end up doing more binge drinking) in high school have higher wages later.

two ideas: 1) those who could handle binge drinking in 10th grade without subsequently falling into problem behavior (violence, drug addiction, etc.) are simply ready to be better performers than the rest of us, who had a fall in performance somewhere along the way. put another way: on average, those who drink and screw up earlier in adolescence are less likely to do so later, when missing a year or two of high performance would affect wage outcome. binge drinking after college may be less desirable for those who did it earlier in their life, so they just get on with their profession.

2) those who survived binge drinking learned how to handle crises in their environment, from their own drinking or those around them. These skills are valuable in the workplace for thinking on one's feet. being good at lying might help too.

anon - another plausibility argument for your #1 is that it's a bit like peacock's feathers. If they can binge drink and perform up to par, they must be really good.

maybe drinking effects social networking positivly so that they enable drinking man to get better jobs and therefore higher wages.


Here is the first link: http://econball.blogspot.com/2006/09/drink-to-your-success.html

Here is the second:

(Sorry Tyler)

A state owned venezuelan company made the want to be emplo
yees to drink.They want them to show if they are gays, so .
And dont hire them if so.They think
that alcohol mede them to show their "true" nature once without inhibitions

Maybe the key phrase is "positive wage effects persist after controlling for achievement". Drinking when you are young would tend to lower your achievement relative your potential. In later life your wages would be affected by your potential.

Perhaps it has to do with involvement with sports teams. Aggressive males tend to flock towards sports teams which leads to opportunities for partying. Later in life this aggression shows itself in competing for higher salaries.

I think drinking a income could go hand in hand because you may drink more
socially if you want to move your way in a corporation. This could be done
by getting in good means with bosses. I just don't think that all guys do
end up making better wages but being more socially involved.

I believe that it is not the drinking that is causing these men to make more money, but rather the social impacts. I believe that if a person did not want to drink or be around people that drank for what ever reason they could still accomplish the same goal and be just as sociable in different ways. I do believe that drinking can make some people more sociable but I also believe that is just an excuse. If someone really wanted to make more money at a job and be promoted there are other ways to go about it rather than drinking with your co workers.

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