The Geography of American Binge Drinking
Lots of Americans binge drink, according to data released last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Binge drinking, according to the CDC, amounts to consuming five or more drinks for men and four or more for women within a short period of time.
The report includes interesting data on state-by-state patterns outlined in the map below:
Binge drinking varies from one in ten adults (10.9 percent) at the low end of the spectrum to more than one in four (25.6 percent) at the high end. There is something of a binge drinking belt across the north of the country, running westward from New England, Pennsylvania and Ohio to Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and Montana. Alaska ranks high too, suggesting that long, cold winters might play a role, though tropical Hawaii is in the top tier as well.
With the help of my MPI colleague Charlotta Mellander, I took a quick look at some of the economic and demographic factors that might be associated with binge drinking. The correlations that we noticed, of course, do not prove causation, only that an association exists. Several factors do stand out, however.
Binge drinking is more common in liberal states, those voted for Obama in 2008, and it is negatively associated with states that voted for McCain (with correlations of roughly .3 and -.3 respectively). Binge drinking states are also more "extroverted." The correlation between extroverted personality types (one of the "big five" personality traits identified by psychologists) and binge drinking is .3.
Still it may come as some surprise that binge drinking is more prevalent in states whose socio-economic profiles would seem more in line with latte sipping than brewski chugging.