Group: Social Drinking Adds Networking Value

September 29, 2006 ( - A Los Angeles research group has published a paper arguing that efforts to restrict social drinking could actually have negative financial effects because fewer happy hours will mean fewer efforts to network and build business contacts.

The paper, “No Booze? You May Lose:Why Drinkers Earn More Money Than Nondrinkers,” by the Reason Foundation, claims drinking opportunities at bars and other public places should be looked at as chances to build a fatter Rolodex and the needed social skills to maximize those potential business contacts.

“Thus, if social drinking enables greater social networks, it will also increase earnings,” asserted authors Bethany Peters and Edward Stringham. “The person with the larger Rolodex can contact more people in any given time period, so the probability that he or she finds the best employment offer increases. But social drinking may provide benefits in addition to those predicted by simple search.”

The researchers continued: “Drinkers may be able to socialize more with clients and co-workers, giving drinkers an advantage in important relationships. Drinking may also provide individuals with opportunities to learn people, business, and social skills.”

Peters and Stringham claim that the average male drinker earns 21% more than the average male abstainer, and the average female drinker earns 8% more than the average female abstainer. Among full-time workers, the average male drinker earns 19% more than the average male abstainer, and the average female drinker earns 23% more than the average female abstainer.

“Most importantly, restrictions on drinking are likely to have harmful economic effects,” the researchers claimed. “Not only do anti-alcohol policies reduce drinkers’ fun, but they may also decrease earnings. One of the unintended consequences of alcohol restrictions is that they push drinking into private settings. By preventing people from drinking in public, anti-alcohol policies eliminate one of the most important aspects of drinking: increased social capital.”

Peters and Stringham conclude: “Rather than attempting to discourage drinking in society, perhaps we should encourage it.”

The Reason Foundation report is here .