Do Ridesharing Services Increase Alcohol Consumption?
65 Pages Posted: 12 Nov 2019 Last revised: 3 Aug 2020
Date Written: July 31, 2020
Recent studies suggest ridesharing services, such as Uber and Lyft, may reduce instances of intoxicated driving. However, if such services increase the frequency and intensity of drinking activity, then the net impact of ridesharing on alcohol-related social harms may be more complicated than the existing literature and policy debates suggest. To examine whether ridesharing affects drinking activity, we leverage spatial and temporal variation in the presence of Uber's taxi-like service, UberX, across the United States. Using self-reported measures of alcohol consumption in the past 30 days among individuals aged 21 to 64, we find that UberX is associated with a 3.6% increase in number of drinks per drinking day, a 2.7% increase in drinking days, a 5.4% increase in total drinks, a 4.3% increase in the maximum number of drinks in a single occasion, and a 1.3% increase in those who report drinking any alcohol. For certain groups, such as males, individuals aged 21-34, and students, UberX is associated with even larger increases in drinking activity. For example, among those aged 21-34, total drinks increase by 7.4% and binge drinking instances increase by 9.5%. We also find that the marginal impact of Uber on drinking is larger in areas that have weaker public transit. Using administrative employment data, we find that some of the additional alcohol consumption is occurring at bars. Specifically, we estimate that UberX is associated with a 3.5% increase in employment and a 3.7% increase in total earnings among workers at NAICS-designated “drinking places.” Finally, examining short-run health effects that may be associated with additional drinking, we find suggestive evidence that UberX negatively impacts mental health.
Keywords: Ridesharing, Uber, Alcohol Consumption, Binge Drinking, Drinking Places
JEL Classification: I12, I18, D12, L83, L91, R41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation