Why Reducing The Cost Of Wine Might Actually Save Lives

A new study from the American Association of Wine Economics makes a compelling case for putting wine on supermarket shelves: it could actually prevent deaths. (via Sarah Kliff of Wonkblog).

How does this work?

The authors of the study argue that wider availability of wine in grocery stores drives up competition, thereby reducing prices, in turn, leading to higher levels of wine consumption. 

The logic follows that states with a higher rate of wine consumption have fewer traffic deaths:

Holding constant the total quantity of alcohol consumed, a higher share of wine correlates with lower traffic fatality rates, while the opposite is true for beer. Spirits are more strongly associated to traffic fatalities than wine, but less than beer. 

The chart below shows that states with high wine consumption (the dark grey bar) have low traffic fatality rates (the light grey bar) compared to states with low wine consumption:

traffic fatalities wine

While the report does not deny the fact that states with higher levels of total alcohol consumption have more traffic fatalities, it goes against the conventional belief that drinks with a higher alcohol content are more “socially dangerous.”

That’s partially because the type of alcoholic beverage we drink is influenced by the kind of people who drink it and how it is typically consumed.  

Researcher Bradley J. Rickard tells Eric Niiler of Discovery News,”Wine is more likely to be consumed with food. That has an impact. We also suspect that there are different demographic groups that consume this alcohol. May be the audience that consumes wine is less likely to drink and drive and be in a traffic accident.” 

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