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March Madness: NCAA Tournament Participation and College Alcohol Use

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  • Dustin R. White
  • Benjamin W. Cowan
  • Jadrian Wooten

Abstract

We examine the impact of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament on college students’ drinking behavior using a nationally representative sample of American institutions. While success in intercollegiate athletics may augment the visibility of a university to prospective students and thereby benefit the school, it may also have a negative effect on the current student body by influencing risky behavior, especially the consumption of alcohol commonly associated with game day festivities. Using the Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Study (CAS), we find that a school’s participation in the NCAA Tournament is associated with a 30% increase in binge drinking and a 9% increase in self-reported drunk driving by male students at that school. The results suggest that this increase is not offset by less alcohol use before or after the tournament (intertemporal substitution) but instead seems to represent a net increase in the amount of alcohol consumed by students at participating schools.

Suggested Citation

  • Dustin R. White & Benjamin W. Cowan & Jadrian Wooten, 2017. "March Madness: NCAA Tournament Participation and College Alcohol Use," NBER Working Papers 23821, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23821
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Cowan, Benjamin W. & White, Dustin R., 2015. "The effects of merit-based financial aid on drinking in college," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 137-149.
    2. Jason M. Lindo & Peter Siminski & Isaac D. Swensen, 2018. "College Party Culture and Sexual Assault," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 236-265, January.
    3. DeSimone, Jeff, 2007. "Fraternity membership and binge drinking," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(5), pages 950-967, September.
    4. Jason M. Lindo & Isaac D. Swensen & Glen R. Waddell, 2012. "Are Big-Time Sports a Threat to Student Achievement?," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(4), pages 254-274, October.
    5. Lindo, Jason M. & Swensen, Isaac D. & Waddell, Glen R., 2013. "Alcohol and student performance: Estimating the effect of legal access," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 22-32.
    6. Eisenberg, Daniel & Golberstein, Ezra & Whitlock, Janis L., 2014. "Peer effects on risky behaviors: New evidence from college roommate assignments," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(C), pages 126-138.
    7. Devin G. Pope & Jaren C. Pope, 2009. "The Impact of College Sports Success on the Quantity and Quality of Student Applications," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 75(3), pages 750-780, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. D. Randall Smith, 2019. "The Lure of Academic and Social Reputations Versus Athletic Success: Influences on Enrollment Yield at NCAA Division I Institutions," Research in Higher Education, Springer;Association for Institutional Research, vol. 60(6), pages 870-904, September.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions
    • Z28 - Other Special Topics - - Sports Economics - - - Policy

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