Model this (spoiled rich kids edition)

  • “About 80 percent of respondents reported drinking alcohol at least two or three times a month, and 39 percent reported drinking at least twice a week.” (60% reported drinking once a week or more)
  • “Students who came from lower-income households were much less likely to drink than their wealthier peers; 35 percent of respondents whose parents make less than $40,000 in combined income drank at least once a week while that figure was 69 percent for students whose parents make at least a combined $250,000.”

Via Tyler R.


A reporter needs to ask the Democratic candidates tonight whether they support free beer for all to combat this disparity.

10 years from now, Raj Chetty will publish a study showing that college drinking among the well off formed social connections that barred poorer students's access to business networks later in life and thus perpetuated socioeconomic disparities. Free beer is socially optimal. QED

Free beer is clearly inadequate and perpetuates ... lots of bad things. Clearly every student should have unlimited access to beer, including a wide variety of craft brews, quality wines, and other alcoholic drinks, including a wide selection of representing the vibrant cultural diversity to which we all aspire. Obviously, each educational institution will have to hire appropriate administrative personnel to ensure this is properly implemented. Vice-President of Alcoholic Beverage Consumption Equity and Diversity? Staff of about 25 (there will no doubt be a lot of reports to file and conference to attend.)

If you think beer is expensive now, wait til it's free

"39 percent reported drinking at least twice a week."

So I should hope. A couple of beers after rugby, a few more at a party on Friday or Saturday night ... Just keep clear of spirits, young things. Spirits are for codgers.

Spirits are fine. Nothing like an after dinner whiskey or a gin and tonic for a relaxed evening. However spirits plus youth plus sports equals bad.

Bar drinks are expensive and lower income shifts the demand curve to the left.

Or: kids drink because their parents drink, and their parents drink because they have high-stress, high-income jobs.

I don't buy this. Alcohol is not a healthy way to deal with stress. People who can't handle stress effectively don't get high stress, high income jobs. The people who get high-stress jobs are people who thrive on stress.

You must not know many lawyers.

Econ 101. Alcohol is a luxury good. It's expensive to consume (particularly given its lack of nutritional value), and a low-priority spending item. Ergo, usage is proportional to disposable income, which is directly correlated to family wealth and income itself.

Are you claiming people in high-stress jobs don't drink or do drugs? EVER KNOW PEOPLE WHO WORK IN FINANCE IN NYC OR IN LAW? Your posts tend to be stupid but this might be the stupidest.

Highest stress job I ever had? Managing a restaurant.

Lowest stress? Managing a debt portfolio.

Rich kids much more likely to be able to afford a fake ID, too, at least back in my day (can you still get decent-looking fake IDs so you can drink in a bar, underage?) , so they had more opportunities to drink.

Burn victims are less likely to think playing with fire is cool.

This is a better explanation.
Could be a generational shift.

I'm the mean reversion.

My grandpa was a violent alcoholic that died from cirrhosis. My father is almost a teetotaler: one drink after the meal and that's it. I drink a lot more than my father but I've never fought while drunk, only sober ;)

Rich kids expend lower effort for the same grades. They come from the perfect environment (better grade school, AP classes that also helped avoid weed-outs, tutoring, structured activities, successful loving parents, no menial work, etc...) and probably didn’t benefit from affirmative action. Most students have an acceptable GPA in mind and will substitute work for leisure once they secure it.

This is an opportunity for less privileged students. By forsaking fun, they can finally be the generation that breaks out of the cycle and performs at least as well as their partying peers. What they lose is the social development one may get from living the Greek life, but benefits > cost. I advise anyone but the most privileged youth to stay away from fraternities and sororities.

+1. I definitely saw this at Fancy U.

I'm an Episcopalean, so that means I believe in moderation. That includes moderation toward alcohol: neither teetotaler nor lush. Why object to teetotaler? One extreme leads to the other.

I hardly ever drink anymore. I don't even really enjoy it. There are other drugs that have more pleasant effects and less unpleasant hangovers (or no hangovers at all).

Jesus turned water into wine because he wanted you to drink it.

No, because in an era of inadequate sanitation, the mild antiseptic effect of diluted wine was a lesser evil.

I find it interesting that your deity's omnipotence stops just short of sanitary potables.

Richer, college educated adults drink a lot more than poorer adults. Unsurprisingly their children tend to follow their lead.

"Drinking Highest Among Educated, Upper-Income Americans"

Rich people drink more because their jobs are harder. Poor people have easy jobs or no jobs at all. My gardener drinks Mexican cola but my surgeon is into IPAs.

"Rich people drink more because their jobs are harder." So they cut back hard on drinking when they retire, I suppose?

Or maybe alcohol is more expensive than water?

I thought we libertarians are supposed to emulate the rich not mock them. There's a reason they are the elite: they work hard and play hard. There's a reason why the poor are not: they are lazy, stupid, and vote for Trump. I know who I want to be when I grow up.

I can respect satire, but not an attempt this poorly drawn.

In the age of Trump, there is very little satire. It is all frighteningly sincere.

"I thought we libertarians are supposed to emulate the rich not mock them."

A libertarian isn't "supposed" to do anything: he should do what he likes.

The rich kids are more engaged in social networking with other wealthy families while at college than in studying. The social connections they will make at elite schools are worth more than the GPA. And this increase social activity tends to involve more alcohol consumption.

That's not mere speculation. That is the reality. When you hobnob with the children of the elites, drink will do more to erase class barriers than a thousand socialists.

Seconded. In many ways, it's rational. What's interesting, though, is the stated motivations for drinking. Though I think Hazel is right that these social connections are valuable, do the students themselves see this drinking as a means to an end, or just a fun past time? I'm unsure.

Near teetotalers, really.

Back to the pub I go.

My hypothesis:

Vice habits are most common among those who perceive them as costing the least.

The wealthy drink an do drugs more because the penalties are largely bought out with money that has less utility for them than what they perceive to be gained from mind alteration. At worst, you need to fork out a few grand for the lawyer and plea deal. It also helps as a class marker - if you cannot afford to blow off a weekend drunk without endangering your scholarship you are not really rich.

The bottom end of the social ladder drink and do drugs because they perceive their lot in life to be fixed and they have so little left to lose. The worst apparent impact is a night or ten in jail and it is not like that is unheard of in these social circles. It is also helps as a solidarity totem, if you shun these things you clearly are on your way up and out so I should not invest social capital in you.

It is only the middle classes who know that they can actually drink away the advantages they or their parents have worked to earn and thus value sobriety more. In our current day, society is much less defined by middle class sentiments than at any time since the gilded age. So it should not be surprising to us that the whims of the wealthy dominate social conventions and that it becomes another barrier to social mobility. Forcing everyone to consume something detrimental to maintaining their academic edge keeps a certain amount of the hoi polloi from getting too uppity.

Not bad, the class marker aspect would mesh well with my hypothesis above. I.e. rich kids at college engaged in status games, while also networking with their peers. Blowing off a weekend drunk means you belong to the upper class and therefore are someone worth networking with.

"It also helps as a class marker - if you cannot afford to blow off a weekend drunk without endangering your scholarship you are not really rich."

LOL, well that would indeed fit my experience. I always missed the good parties and spring break because I was delivering pizzas till closing Friday and Saturday and working the Day shift on Sunday. And Spring & Fall break was an opportunity to work every week day and both weekends.

Also, it's not just the drinking, it's being able to take off for a weekend on Dad's yacht, or rent a house in the Hamptons. Parties are opportunities to show off afford to spend on entertainment.

It is much simpler. Mankind for thousands of years bonded or in today's lingo networked over alcohol. See the old recipes etched in Sumerian or the wine residues baked into the clay jugs of ancient China. It is not a class warfare thing. That is too Marxist. Alcohol lowers inhibitions and creates enough social vulnerability to make comradery possible.

Yet somehow both the rich and the poor consume at much greater per capita levels than the mass in the middle.

The simplest explanation for why people drink is that most humans enjoy being buzzed or drunk.

The real puzzle is why so many people abstain or nearly abstain and secondarily why do the people who forsake comradery come from the middle strata?

Who says they forsake comradery? The simplest explanation is that the middle class is the busiest class so it wouldn't cross their mind to go drink unless it is part of some activity they already planned to do like watch a ballgame with the guys or a martini with the boss. The rich and poor have much more idle time.

I think that's half the answer. The other is money. Drinking and lost income from not working as many hours cost money. The rich can afford it and the poor, well that's one of the reasons why they're poor.

If the amount of lost income from splitting a six pack with the neighbors is a major financial concern, then you are not middle class.

'The simplest explanation for why people drink'

Is probably more complex? Beer (more recently compared to its origins) and wine are excellent ways to both preserve food into the winter and to avoid drinking water that may make one ill.

Anyone familiar with ancient Greece is also aware that the Greeks apparently (in the sense of good manners) never drank their wine straight, they mixed it with water - a practice that would avoid the damage of binge drinking, allow the calories of the grape harvest to be used in winter, and to help disinfect water.

This is a complex subject, not easily reduced to any simple narrative.

'The Greeks diluted their wine with water (1 part wine to 3 parts water), although the Macedonians scandalously drank theirs neat. This dilution helped prevent excessive alcoholism, which was (at least by the elite) considered a trait of ‘barbarian’ foreign cultures and which was widely parodied in Greek comedy plays. Drunkenness also crops up in many Greek myths as an explanation for terrible and uncivilised behaviour such as the fight caused by the inebriated centaurs at the wedding of Perithous.

Ancient authors warned of the dangers of drunkenness to both mind and body. Aristotle even wrote a treatise On Drunkenness (now lost) and Pliny the Elder famously noted that wine can reveal the truth (in vino veritas) but that such truths are usually better left unsaid. Such learned recommendations, though, doubtless went unheeded by common folk and did not stop such famous names as Alcibiades, Alexander the Great, and Mark Antony gaining a reputation as fierce wine drinkers.'

One should further note that the soils and conditions considered good for grapes are not the same as those considered good for other food crops - in other words, slopes with chalky soil could also be used effectively for agriculture.

Model: Adults who drink moderately do fine, like twice a week or less often. Other adults who aren't ultimately humanists obsess about how much better it would be if everyone believed in brass tablets and worked hard to earn tithe money instead of drinking, having kids and a happy life.

Data: people who believe in brass tablets and work hard for tithe money have better life outcomes on virtually all formal measures of life outcomes (including having kids and a "happy life").

People that worship cows have the highest incomes in the USA followed by a group that believes in male genital mutilation. It doesn't follow that drinking cow urine or chopping off your dick will guarantee you riches. Correlation is not causation.

Alcohol is a normal good, and higher incomes result in higher consumption? Seems straightforward to me.

Excessive alcohol consumption scrambles your brain. However significant number of European are descendent of early European farmers who have evolved to metabolize alcohol. So are the EastAsians the descendents of Eastern farmers. However, for the EastAsians there was a meritocratic systems running for at least 2,000 years that favour those with higher cognitive ability and thus a significant percentage have evolved (by accident) to have genes that cannot metablize alcohol effectively and alcohol makes them feel sick resulting in alcohol aversion with the colleteral advantage of less damaged brain and relatively high average IQ but very high odd ratio of getting uncurable esophageal cancer if they drink. 50% of the global esophageal cancer cases are in China. The persistence of those poor alcohol metabolism genes means that under the EastAsian environment there is a Nash equilibrium point for the mixture of mutations instead of the almost complete dominant of the efficient alcohol metabolism genes for the Europeans.

Interestingly the Askenazis though have staying in Europe for centuries, significant number of them still carry the mutations for poor alcohol metabolism, with the same consequences of higher average IQ and high esophageal cancer cases. However the immigrant Jew from the hard drinking culture Russia have significantly less of such mutations even though they are from common ancestral pool in central Europe a thousand years ago.

The datapoints for the Europeans are fairly dispersed indicating that there are other genes at play, like the lactase persistent genes which can enable the absorption of more nutrients while the EastAsians have almost zilch. GWAS IQ studies using only European samples normally explicitly exclude the poor alcohol metabolism SNPs as their occurrence frequencies are very low in European.

It might be interesting if their starting salaries are further breakdown by their drinking habits.

Histogram gives a clearer picture

The relationship between alcohol consumption and earnings.

RESULTS: The results show that alcohol consumption has a significant effect on income. Furthermore, these results support the hypothesis that moderate drinkers have greater earnings than either abstainers or abusers. This result holds when the effects of ex-drinkers are taken into account separately. The levels of highest earnings are consistent with the levels of lowest CAD risk (i.e., 2-3.5 drinks per day).

CONCLUSIONS: The results help resolve apparent contradictions found in the previous literature on earnings and alcohol consumption. It is concluded that results of previous studies depended on the sample mix of abusers, moderate drinkers and abstainers. Alcohol consumption is a significant variable in explaining earnings and the nature of this relation is a concave quadratic, similar to that found in medical studies for drinking and CAD.

They drink because they are spoiled rich kids.

"""Results Adolescents' alcohol drinking pattern was significantly associated with their disposable income. The OR for monthly drunkenness versus abstinence was 6.6 (95% CI 5.0 to 8.8) among girls and 9.0 (6.3 to 13.0) among boys in the highest income group compared with the lowest."""

Students partying! What is this world coming to?

I was told Harvard is elite. I can't believe the students there would ever drink.

At a free college, I could believe it. But at the height of American education? No way.

So I'm reading this (and the comments) and I find it bemusing nobody commented on the obvious in that "it's Harvard". While some people have touched on it it really has nothing to with classism here as people are implying but simply more norms and downside risk. The poor kid going to Harvard has a lot of lose and might not the disposal income to drink glasses of Louix XIII nightly and is embarrassed by that so doesn't hang out as much with his peers and nurses his limited funds.

I feel if you replicated this survey at UW-Appleton or MATC for example you will see a different picture. I also think if you replace "alcohol" with "any mind altering substance" you will a closer parity, i.e. rich kids do coke, poor kids huff paint but kids still going to be kids.

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