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Binge Drinking Rises with Unemployment: UMiami Study

Don't think just because incomes tend to dwindle during times of job loss that folks still aren't shelling out cash for booze. In fact, a new University of Miami study claims that incidents of binge drinking tend to rise with state unemployment levels. The study flies in the face of previous studies that claim, basically, we're all now too poor to drink.


Conducted by Michael French, professor of health economics and director of the Health Economics Research Group at the UM College of Arts and Sciences, the study finds the insistence of problematic drinking increases with unemployment rates, and even those who are employed during tough economic times tend to drink more.

"We are one of the first to show that, even though incomes decline for most people during an economic downtown, they still increase problematic or risky drinking," French tells MLive.com.

The study found that the trend holds true across gender, age, and ethnicity, but finds that African-Americans and all people between 18-24 tend to drink more as unemployment rises. In addition, the more children that live in your household, the more likely you are to binge drink.

Interestingly, people with a higher income are more likely to binge drink during a downturn, and those that are employed are more likely to drive after drinking.

"The way we explain this is even people who don't lose their jobs drink more during an economic downturn, pushing up more episodes of driving under the influence," says French.

The study was published in Health Economics and analyzed consumption data from 2001 to 2005.

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