The Impact of Alcohol on Mental Health, Physical Fitness, and Job Performance

38 Pages Posted: 26 Jun 2017

See all articles by Marigee Bacolod

Marigee Bacolod

Naval Postgraduate School

Jesse M. Cunha

Naval Postgraduate School

Yu-Chu Shen

U.S. Graduate School of Business and Public Policy; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: June 2017

Abstract

We study the impact of legal access to alcohol on a range of behavioral and physical outcomes of U.S. Army soldiers in a regression discontinuity design. The wealth of novel data collected by the military on cognitive ability, psychological health, and family history allows us to explore how impacts vary with risk factors for alcohol consumption. Overall, we observe a large and significant increase in drinking after the 21st birthday, but the increases are largest amongst those who were depressed, had a family history of mental health problems, had better coping ability, and had higher cognitive ability. Despite the large increase in consumption, we do not find any meaningful impacts of legal access to alcohol - overall or in any sub-group - on any of the short-term outcomes we observe, including suicidal tendencies, depression, tobacco use, physical fitness, psychological health, deployability, smoking, and job-related infractions. Acknowledging the limitations for extrapolation out of sample, we discuss the policy implications of our results.

Suggested Citation

Bacolod, Marigee and Cunha, Jesse M. and Shen, Yu-Chu, The Impact of Alcohol on Mental Health, Physical Fitness, and Job Performance (June 2017). NBER Working Paper No. w23542, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2992437

Marigee Bacolod (Contact Author)

Naval Postgraduate School ( email )

555 Dyer Road
Monterey, CA 93943
United States

Jesse M. Cunha

Naval Postgraduate School ( email )

555 Dyer Road
Monterey, CA 93943
United States

Yu-Chu Shen

U.S. Graduate School of Business and Public Policy ( email )

555 Dyer Road
Monterey, CA 93943
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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