The Economic Impact of Alcoholism

“Scientists announced that they have located the gene for alcoholism. Scientists say they found it at a party, talking too loudly.” Conan O’Brien American late night Talk Show Host. b. 1963.Although much can be said about alcoholism and its impact on society, one thing is clear- We are breeding a nation of alcoholics. Drinking has become part of our national past time เหล้านอก. I myself have been guilty of the excessive use of alcohol- a condition not learnt until university days when, some may say, I took a “crash” course in drinking.How Alcohol "Proof" is Determined

However, we in Trinidad and Tobago do have a serious problem. According to Hari D. Maharajh and Akleema Ali in “Crime in Trinidad and Tobago: the effect of alcohol use and employment,” a reduction in beer available for home consumption – a major public health concern- would significantly reduce the occurrence of minor offenses. In fact, the consumption of beer accounted for 64% of minor crimes in this country. However, this aspect of the impact of alcoholism will be looked at in another article.

The purpose of this article is to summarize the statistical literature concerning the effects of alcohol consumption on earnings and employment. One of the most important findings of this research is that alcoholism has both direct and indirect effects on earnings. That is, there is evidence that alcoholics’ earnings are depressed both because alcoholism causes reduced labour productivity and because it discourages investments in “human capital” (e.g., education). Problem drinking is also found to increase unemployment.

Alcoholism is considered to be a disease, and affects earnings as such. The physical and mental health problems associated with problem drinking have direct effects on labour market productivity and reliability. That is, sickness, hangover, late arrivals, extended lunch breaks, and early departures are some work characteristics that lead to reduced reliability and productivity. This in turn leads to lessened earnings and fewer promotions and raises.

Alcoholism can have other direct effects on wages, namely, alcoholism can affect career choices and stability. It is possible that alcoholics self-select into jobs that are less demanding, and therefore lower paying. The further advanced the state of alcoholism, the less the alcoholic is concerned about his or her career. Therefore, alcoholics tend to gravitate towards jobs that are not strenuous or taxing.

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