Increased Drunkenness, Rowdiness Directly Related to Drink Prices


beerThe cheaper the beer, the drunker students will get. That’s what recent research at the University of Florida has proven with college bars.

At the bar scene, offering specials on beer is directly tied to increased rowdiness among college students. But as long as they’re making money, bars have no intentions on cutting back the deals.

Ryan J. O’Mara, University of Florida graduate and corresponding author for the study, commented:

‘Drink specials’ and other alcohol discounts and promotions remain a common feature of college bars in campus communities in the United States. This study’s results challenge assertions sometimes made by the management of these establishments that drink discounts are innocuous marketing practices intended only to attract customers to better bargains than those provided elsewhere.

Part of the research involved a survey of several hundred college students at the University of Florida. The surveys were conducted as students left seven different bars on four consecutive nights in April 2008. They included anonymous interviews, breath alcohol concentration (BrAC) readings, and the number and price of drinks consumed.

The study authors found that for each $1.40 increase in the average price paid for a standard drink, the study participant was 30 percent less likely to leave the bar with a BrAC above 0.08. In other words, higher drink prices were associated with a decreased risk of patrons being inebriated when leaving the bar, the researchers concluded.

Now being an idiot is rationalized with research. Can this also be the reason behind the mass consumption of Natty and Keystone here at Penn State? We hope so.

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  1. Of course, studies like these ignore — or at least, they don’t take into account — alternatives to condemning bar owners for catering to the market (ie – real people).

    Studies like these are used as justification by college administrations to pressure business owners into changing their price points, as if price changes or fractional changes in BrAC necessarily equates to a drop in what’s often termed “dangerous drinking.”

    What’s disappointing about these types of actions is that they fail to consider alternatives to combating dangerous drinking.

    What about offering a seminar course to college students that teaches them about the brewing process, and the attributes of high quality v. low quality alcohol?

    Instead of attacking honest business owners who rightly set their prices in response to our demand, why not attack the culture of alcohol superstition on the part of college administration and alcohol ignorance on the part of students?

    Both would seem to contribute more fundamentally toward debauched standards and cultural habits than a industry’s price point.

  2. No, studies like these–and many others–show that one of the most effective ways to reduce dangerous drinking is to follow the very basic, simple laws of economics. Raise the price and you lower demand. The College Alcohol Study clearly show that the types of interventions Shakely advocates (seriously, a course on the brewing process??) have little or no effect on changing drinking culture. Instead, the most effective interventions have been those that take on the easy availability of alcohol. As a result, the 14 year long study that examined drinking by 50,000 students at 120 different universities concluded:

    “Future prevention efforts need to be directed toward limiting
    the exposure of college students to aggressive marketing
    or increasing counter-advertising, reducing the easy
    accessibility to low-priced alcohol and super-sized quantity
    sales, and limiting the high density of alcohol outlets
    (Gorman et al., 2001; Saffer, 2002; Toomey et al., 2007;
    Toomey and Wagenaar, 2002). College traditions; laws or
    policies at the college, community, and state levels; and
    law enforcement need to be re-examined. These strategies
    represent a promising avenue for prevention of alcoholrelated
    problems (DeJong and Langford, 2002; Holder et
    al., 2000; Perry et al., 1996; Toomey et al., 2001).”