A Pint To Raise Pay Day

Gabrielle Powell
Aug 13 · 5 min read

I’m pretty much the poster child for health.

Which is to say, if there’s an opportunity to optimize, I’m game.

“Sitting is the new smoking.” So I bought the standing desk.

“Does it ‘Spark Joy’?” No Mari, no it doesn’t, so I now have three shirts.

“Stress is the silent killer.” So I kumbayad and namastayed the stress to death.

“Kale will heal a body on the brink of death.” A bunch of crunchy leaves I swallowed whole.

But a pint a day to raise pay day?


Enter: The Drinker’s Premium, the thoroughly-studied, well-proven theory that reveals moderate drinkers earn 10 to 14 percent more than their abstaining peers.

Okay, I’m listening.

“In 2001, the University of Michigan’s Panel Study of Income Dynamics found that light drinkers (one to two drinks a day) had a mean income of $49,000, versus $36,000 among teetotalers. This is a nuanced statistic; drinking may be associated with other variables (like education) that influence income. So the researchers did their best to strip these other causes out. If two adults were identical with respect to education, age, family status, race and religion, except that the first had one or two drinks each night after work while the second was a teetotaler, the drinker would tend to enjoy a “drinker’s bonus” of about 10% higher income.”

Arthur C. Brooks, Drinking To Success, Forbes

Well, pour me another glass and color me convinced.

So why exactly does boozing lead to big bucks?


“Write drunk, edit sober,” Hemingway advised. No one here is advocating for a 9 a.m. Mad Men-esque, slosh-fest in the break room, but Hemmingway’s method might have tapped on a secret weapon of the successful: lowered inhibitions give the green light to innovation.

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago endorsed the tipsy train of thought in one study:

“In the study, participants whose blood alcohol level (BAC) was slightly under .08 percent performed better in a creative task than did their sober counterparts. (The intoxicated group, however, underperformed when they were assigned memory tasks.) The researchers determined that a person’s ‘creative peak’ is reached when the person hits a BAC of .075 percent.”

Kate Bratskier, Drinking (A Little) At Work Could Actually Make You Better At Your Job, Huffpost

The same buzz pushing you to ask for a stranger’s number is the same boldness that invites brilliance to seep through. Because even if a sober-edged mind thinks more clearly, it might be more fearfully suppressed as well. Being a creative problem-solver often calls on daring logic and action.


We can’t give alcohol all the credit, though. The high-earners are a product of high-achieving mindsets. One study drew a correlative line between the wealthy, moderate-drinkers and diligent behaviors they maintain in the other areas of their life.

“It may also be that there is no causal association but that future-orientated individuals invest more in their health and are more educated [49]. Alternatively, more educated individuals may prefer healthy habits and avoid unhealthy ones and education is a key component of health literacy.”

Emma Beard, Associations between socio-economic factors and alcohol consumption

When a liberated “Hemmingway” mentality lands in the hands of the goal-oriented, the result is a disciplined individual fixated on success.


Of the many hypotheses offered, social capital is most-credited to explaining the Drinker’s Premium. And in the American workforce, run on group chats and Slack, favoring collaboration and face time, it’s easy to see why this concept of Wealthy, er, I mean, Happy Hour holds especially true.

“…in an economy where ‘soft’ skills such as networking, cooperating with members of a team and other social skills are important, the fact that moderate drinkers may spend more time socializing with their colleagues in and out of working hours, and thanks to this may have more professional contacts and access to more information about job prospects or other professionally relevant factors, positively influences their wages for example by improving their chances of promotion or finding a better job.”

- Franco Sassi, Tackling Harmful Alcohol Use: Economics and Public Health Policy

Simply put: social drinking gets you out of the bleachers and onto the court, where certain opportunities are only accessible by playing the game.


A fear of Alcohol Overconsumption led to the improbability of Alcohol Moderation, triggering a shunning of Alcohol Consumption leaving us in a Dry State society where Alcohol is Vilified at its very mention.

To claim safe-consumption of… alcohol (gasp!) might not damage your career, but also shine lucrative favor on those who responsibly partake (double-gasp!), is received as backwards, upside-down thinking by a society drilled in the consequences of drinking.


Because well, um, money, as in 10 to 14 percent more of it.

Yes, but also because The Drinker’s Premium represents just one of several stigma-busting theories burrowed in scientific fact to evidence moderate drinking’s gainful contribution to our lives.

Drinking in the name health feels like a scam (albeit, a much tastier one than kale). However, financial security and success hold an undisputed influence on all limbs of wellbeing, offering me stature well above my standing desk.

If money matters, it might be time to tell mocktails to move over.

Gabrielle Powell

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