Findings from the study into the relationship between drink and politics across 50 states in the US over the past 50 years suggest a direct correlation between political beliefs and the demand for alcohol.
Economists from Pittsburgh’s Duquesne University reveal that, as states become more liberal politically over time, their consumption of beer and spirits rises – while their consumption of wine tends to fall.
The research reveals that more politically liberal states like Nevada tend to consume up to three times more alcohol per head than more politically conservative states like Arkansas and Utah.
The study by Pavel Yakovlev and Walter P. Guessford reviewed more than five decades of data between 1952 and 2010 and measured alcohol intake against "citizen ideology", which was inferred from the voting patterns of congressional representatives.
"In this study, we show that liberal ideology has a statistically significant positive association with the consumption of alcohol in the United States even after controlling for economic, demographic, and geographic differences across states," the authors say.
"Holding everything else constant, our findings suggest that when a state becomes more liberal politically, its population consumes more beer and spirits per capita, but possibly less wine per capita."
The authors' findings are relatively consistent with recent sociological studies in other parts of the world showing that people with more socialist views tend to engage in more unhealthy behavior, such as excessive drinking. For example, they cite one 2002 study, which found that Russian pro-socialists were significantly more likely than anti-socialists to drink alcohol frequently. Another 2006 survey in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine found that adults with anti-communist views had healthier lifestyles than their pro-communist peers.
Explanations offered by the authors of this latest study include the suggestion that people of a more liberal persuasion tend to be more open to new experiences, including the consumption of alcohol or drugs – or that they might feel more confident in government healthcare and social welfare to pick up the pieces of their socially irresponsible behavior.
The authors suggest that further research is needed to explore the relationship between political beliefs and other unhealthy behaviors in future.
Journal of Wine Economics