Health and Medicine

Alcohol Proven to Make People Happier (For the Moment)


Research conducted by Dr. Ben Baumberg Geiger, a social policy expert from the University of Sussex has concluded that drinking alcohol does make a person happier for the time being. However, those who start to abuse the drink have been shown to become much less satisfied with their lives as a whole.

There have long been debates about alcohol and its effect on the happiness of those who regularly consume the liquid. Many people discuss alcohol policy and regulation, but these types of questions have never been studied on a serious academic level. Governments typically side with economists in assuming that drinking alcohol does not affect someone’s ability to think and act rationally.

The latest study tracked the happiness of individuals as they changed their drinking habits over a period of time. Authors of the study included Dr. Geiger from the School of Social Policy and Sociology and Social Research as well as Dr. George MacKerron from the University of Sussex. All findings were created using an iPhone application and a more traditional cohort study.

The results showed that alcohol in itself does not have a connection to someone’s happiness over the long term. The only time results showed differently was in those who began to overuse or lean on alcohol on a regular basis, as these individuals had decreases in their sense of overall well-being.

Authors of the study considered other possible explanations for a relationship between happiness and alcohol, and struggled to prove that alcohol created momentary bouts of increased happiness. During the first study, iPhone users were observed. These people in particular tend to be on the young side and have a decent amount of money. The second study simply focused on people who were within the age range of 30 and 42.

Studies in numbers:

  • Results of the 1st study (panel study, sample size of 29,145 observations involving 10,107 people): scientists looked at changes in life satisfaction and previous-week alcohol drinking gathered from a cohort of British residents that were born in 1970 (responses gathered at ages 30, 34 and 42). They discovered no connection between drinking alcohol and happiness over a period of time (except when alcohol became an issue – alcohol addiction as it reciprocated with reduced feelings of happiness and well-being).
  • Results of the 2nd study (iPhone data): for this study, researchers looked at moment-to-moment changes in happiness and drinking alcohol (2,049,120 observations involving 31,302 partakers). Study concluded that people are happier at the moment of drinking ( iPhone data collected in England from years 2010 to 2013).

Study authors hope that the findings, while minimal as of yet, may help policymakers during their cost vs benefit analysis when it comes to alcohol regulation. They want to see policymakers make more transparent decisions that are better for individuals who may be experiencing short term increases in their overall happiness upon having an alcoholic beverage here and there. The study may be able to cause reactions based on what types of policies are going to help the general population and weed out the ones that will not.