News You Can Booze

A Government Report Says Every Cocktail You Drink Costs the Economy $2

Maybe a one-and-done kind of evening.
Maybe a one-and-done kind of evening. Photo: Cat Gwynn/Corbis

Here’s some fun data to really get the party going this weekend: Every time you have a drink, it costs America $2.05 in lost workplace productivity, health-care expenses, crime, and other kinds of economic drain. That’s the CDC’s conclusion after crunching numbers on what it calls the hidden costs of drinking. The new report, released yesterday, found that Americans’ intake of alcoholic beverages is a $249 billion annual loss for society.

It’s worth noting that the $2 cost is a bit overly simplistic, as most of that billion-dollar figure comes specifically from excessive drinking, like bingeing on four drinks in one evening and hoping to do a passable job at work the next day, as opposed to a glass of wine with dinner. Still, of the total amount, the government emphasizes that $100 billion gets passed on to taxpayers via things like Medicare/Medicaid payments, so this report could seemingly create existential crises for people like tax-hating bourbon enthusiast Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The societal costs mostly manifest themselves in workplace productivity loss ($82 billion) and early deaths (another $75 billion). These figures are actually rising: It was $1.90 per drink the last time researchers did this report, using data from 2006. And for people suddenly curious about their own suck on the economy, they can input their state of residence and weekly drink total into an interactive chart at the Washington Post’s Wonkblog and see the damage. New Yorkers fall in the $2.10- to $2.30-per-drink range.

[CDC via WP]

A Government Report Says Every Cocktail You Drink Costs the Economy $2