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Behavioral Economics and the Demand for Alcohol: Results from the NLSY97


  • Henry Saffer
  • Dhaval Dave
  • Michael Grossman


The behavioral economic model presented in this paper argues that the effect of advertising and price differ by past consumption levels. The model predicts that advertising is more effective in reducing consumption at high past consumption levels but less effective at low past consumption levels. Conversely, the model predicts that higher prices are effective in reducing consumption at low past consumption levels but less effective at high past consumption levels. Unlike the models used in most prior studies, this model predicts that the effects of policy on average consumption and on the upper end of the distribution are different. Both FMM and Quantile models were estimated. The results from these regressions show that heavy drinkers are more responsive to advertising and less responsive to price than are moderate drinkers. The empirical evidence also supports the assumption that education is a proxy for self-regulation. The key conclusions are that restrictions on advertising are targeted at heavy drinkers and are an underutilized alcohol control policy. Higher excise taxes on alcohol reduce consumption by moderate drinkers and are of less importance in reducing heavy consumption.

Suggested Citation

  • Henry Saffer & Dhaval Dave & Michael Grossman, 2012. "Behavioral Economics and the Demand for Alcohol: Results from the NLSY97," NBER Working Papers 18180, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18180
    Note: HE

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gallet, Craig A., 2007. "The demand for alcohol: a meta-analysis of elasticities," Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society, vol. 51(2), June.
    2. Padmaja Ayyagari & Partha Deb & Jason Fletcher & William T. Gallo & Jody L. Sindelar, 2009. "Sin Taxes: Do Heterogeneous Responses Undercut Their Value?," NBER Working Papers 15124, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Grant, Darren, 2016. "A structural analysis of U.S. drunk driving policy," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 14-22.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health

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