Smarter people are more likely to drink alcohol daily, research finds.
Better educated people are also more likely to have a drinking problem.
Better grades in school at the age of just 5-years-old predict greater intake of alcohol many decades later.
Among women, there is an especially strong link between alcohol consumption and being highly educated.
The reason may be that middle-class lifestyles — accessible through education — are linked to more alcohol consumption.
It could also be because intelligent people often value novel things and are at a greater risk of getting bored.
The study’s authors write:
“The more educated women are, the more likely they are to drink alcohol on most days and to report having problems due to their drinking patterns
The better-educated appear to be the ones who engage the most in problematic patterns of alcohol consumption.”
The results come from a study that followed everyone born in the UK in one week in 1970.
Women with degrees were 86% more likely to drink on most days than those with less education, the study found.
Highly-educated women were 1.7 times more likely to have a drinking problem than the less well-educated.
The authors write:
“Both males and females who achieved high-level performance in test scores administered at ages five and 10 are significantly more likely to abuse alcohol than individuals who performed poorly on those tests.”
The link between alcohol consumption and education could come down to a range of factors, the authors write:
“Reasons for the positive association of education and drinking behaviours may include: a more intensive social life that encourages alcohol intake; a greater engagement into traditionally male spheres of life, a greater social acceptability of alcohol use and abuse; more exposure to alcohol use during formative years; and greater postponement of childbearing and its responsibilities among the better educated.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Social Science and Medicine (Huerta & Borgonovi, 2010).