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Measuring the human cost of a weak economy: Does unemployment lead to alcohol abuse?


  • Ettner, Susan L.


This paper uses two-stage instrumental variables methods to examine whether unemployment affects alcohol use and symptoms of dependence, and if so, in which direction. Data were obtained from the 1988 National Health Interview Survey. The outcomes examined were average daily consumption during the previous two weeks and a summary measure of the number of symptoms related to alcohol dependence during the previous year. After eliminating potential bias due to reverse causality, evidence was found that non-employment significantly reduces both alcohol consumption and dependence symptoms, probably due to an income effect. Involuntary unemployment had a mixed effect--job loss increased the consumption of alcohol in the overall sample but reduced dependence symptoms among single respondents. Studies of the impact of alcohol use on economic outcomes should take potential reverse causality into account.

Suggested Citation

  • Ettner, Susan L., 1997. "Measuring the human cost of a weak economy: Does unemployment lead to alcohol abuse?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 251-260, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:44:y:1997:i:2:p:251-260

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Halkos, George, 1993. "Economic incentives for optimal sulphur abatement in Europe," MPRA Paper 33705, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Ger Klaassen & David Pearce, 1995. "Introduction," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 5(2), pages 85-93, March.
    3. Michael Grossman, 1972. "The Demand for Health: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number gros72-1, January.
    4. Tietenberg, T H, 1990. "Economic Instruments for Environmental Regulation," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 6(1), pages 17-33, Spring.
    5. Halkos, George E., 1993. "Sulphur abatement policy: Implications of cost differentials," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 21(10), pages 1035-1043, October.
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