The Effects of Price Changes on Alcohol Consumption in Alcohol-Experienced Rats

42 Pages Posted: 1 Jul 2000 Last revised: 8 Oct 2010

See all articles by Jeffrey K. Sarbaum

Jeffrey K. Sarbaum

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Greensboro - Bryan School of Business & Economics

Solomon W. Polachek

State University of New York at Binghamton; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Norman E. Spear

State University of New York (SUNY) - Department of Psychology

Date Written: March 1998

Abstract

This paper reports results of two experiments designed to measure how addicted rats (i.e. laboratory rats with previous ethanol exposure via a variant of the Samson ethanol fading technique) respond to changes in the price of ethanol. For both experiments, rats facing a budget constraint choose between two alternative non-ethanol commodities in a morning control session and between ethanol and a non-ethanol commodity in an afternoon session. The results from both experiments shows that economic models of consumer choice are a useful tool to study ethanol and non-ethanol consumption in rats, and that a history of ethanol exposure did not interfere with rats' ability to behave according to economic theory. In the first experiment, rats responded only moderately to a 100% price increase (especially when compared to the response for the non-ethanol commodity during the control session), but more dramatically for a 400% ethanol price increase. However, going back to baseline prices after a prolonged duration of high ethanol prices yields some evidence that ethanol consumption declines below its original levels. In the second experiment rats responded to increased ethanol prices but not to a cue signaling future price increases. Thus, the experiments provide evidence supporting habit formation but not rational addiction as an explanation of ethanol consumption in rats.

Suggested Citation

Sarbaum, Jeffrey K. and Polachek, Solomon W. and Spear, Norman E., The Effects of Price Changes on Alcohol Consumption in Alcohol-Experienced Rats (March 1998). NBER Working Paper No. w6443, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=226189

Jeffrey K. Sarbaum

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Greensboro - Bryan School of Business & Economics ( email )

401 Bryan Building
Greensboro, NC 27402-6179
United States

Solomon W. Polachek (Contact Author)

State University of New York at Binghamton ( email )

Binghamton, NY 13902-6000
United States
607-777-2144 (Phone)
607-777-4900 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Norman E. Spear

State University of New York (SUNY) - Department of Psychology

Binghamton, NY 13902
United States

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