Do liberals Drink More?
Is it possible that the answer to declining alcohol sales is for more people to become politically liberal? Yes, according to an interesting and fun study published in the USA. An article in the Journal of Wine Economics (hands up who’s heard of that) was based on analysing data from 50 American states between 1952 and 2010. This measured alcohol intake against “citizen ideology” inferred from the voting patterns of congressional representatives. “Our findings indicate that as the American states become more liberal over time, they tend to consume more alcohol-specifically beer and spirits-per capita,” said Dr Pavel Yakolev of Pittsburgh’s Duquesme University.
The researchers have calculated that this means, for example, that if the Midwest state of Michigan, where 9 of the 14 congressmen and women are Republican, became as liberal as Vermont, where two-thirds voted for Obama, people would be expected to drink an extra two gallons of beer a year. This follows a study in Russia that concluded that Socialists were more likely to imbibe frequently than those on the right. Explanations offered for these findings range from liberals seeing alcohol as part of an openness that also includes drugs and sex (yeah, baby) to the simple concept of them having more faith in the state to care for them when the fun stops.
On a serious note; Dr Yakolev was keen to stress that these findings do not indicate that liberals drink more than conservatives in absolute terms. Nor does it transpose directly onto UK politics as, apart from famous drunks such as Winston Churchill, the statistics tell a slightly different story. According to Public Health England, it’s Labour strongholds such as Tyneside, Liverpool and South Yorkshire that have the fewest people engaging in increasingly risky drinking. While Conservative heartlands such as North Yorkshire, Cambridgeshire and the Surrey commuter belt towns boast the highest concentration. Of course, this may simply be down to economics: certainly the capitalist wage-slave system holds me back. Or tries to.
Anyway, whatever your political persuasion, let’s raise a glass (and two fingers) to Dryanuary.
Written at Brewdog Manchester and fueled by Gigantic IPA