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A Theory of Chronic Loss, Suffering and Alcoholism



This paper focuses on the consumption of alcohol to numb the suffering associated with failure. While drinking reduces the individual’s current level of suffering, it leads to future failures and potentially greater suffering. The basic model shows that the stationary status of an alcoholic is improved by the difference between his rate of time preference and the rate of return on his status and that this improvement is amplified by the ratio of the instantaneous suffering-relief effect to the status-eroding effect of alcohol. The extended model shows that society’s reaction to alcoholism may lead to permanent cyclical alcohol consumption.

Suggested Citation

  • Levy, Amnon, 2002. "A Theory of Chronic Loss, Suffering and Alcoholism," Economics Working Papers wp02-16, School of Economics, University of Wollongong, NSW, Australia.
  • Handle: RePEc:uow:depec1:wp02-16

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Grossman, Michael & Chaloupka, Frank J & Sirtalan, Ismail, 1998. "An Empirical Analysis of Alcohol Addiction: Results from the Monitoring the Future Panels," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 36(1), pages 39-48, January.
    2. Dockner, Engelbert J & Feichtinger, Gustav, 1993. "Cyclical Consumption Patterns and Rational Addiction," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(1), pages 256-263, March.
    3. Mullahy, John & Sindelar, Jody L, 1993. "Alcoholism, Work, and Income," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 11(3), pages 494-520, July.
    4. Hamermesh, Daniel S & Soss, Neal M, 1974. "An Economic Theory of Suicide," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(1), pages 83-98, Jan.-Feb..
    5. Becker, Gary S & Murphy, Kevin M, 1988. "A Theory of Rational Addiction," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(4), pages 675-700, August.
    6. Feichtinger, Gustav & Novak, Andreas & Wirl, Franz, 1994. "Limit cycles in intertemporal adjustment models : Theory and applications," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 353-380, March.
    7. Vivian Hamilton & Barton H. Hamilton, 1997. "Alcohol and Earnings: Does Drinking Yield a Wage Premium," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 30(1), pages 135-151, February.
    8. Douglas, Stratford, 1998. "The Duration of the Smoking Habit," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 36(1), pages 49-64, January.
    9. Barrett, Garry F, 2002. "The Effect of Alcohol Consumption on Earnings," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 78(240), pages 79-96, March.
    10. Richard H. Thaler, 2000. "From Homo Economicus to Homo Sapiens," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(1), pages 133-141, Winter.
    11. Stigler, George J & Becker, Gary S, 1977. "De Gustibus Non Est Disputandum," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(2), pages 76-90, March.
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    More about this item


    alcoholism; suffering; alcohol consumption;

    JEL classification:

    • D99 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Other
    • Z00 - Other Special Topics - - General - - - General

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