Research / Weiss Fund Supported ResearchApr 04, 2019

Alcohol and Self-Control: A Field Experiment in India

Frank Schilbach
American Economic Association

This paper studies alcohol consumption among low-income workers in India. In a 3-week field experiment, the majority of 229 cycle-rickshaw drivers were willing to forgo substantial monetary payments in order to set incentives for themselves to remain sober, thus exhibiting demand for commitment to sobriety. Randomly receiving sobriety incentives significantly reduced daytime drinking while leaving overall drinking unchanged. I find no evidence of higher daytime sobriety significantly changing labor supply, productivity, or earnings. In contrast, increasing sobriety raised savings by 50 percent, an effect that does not appear to be solely explained by changes in income net of alcohol expenditures.