Review of Economics of the Household

, Volume 13, Issue 4, pp 975–1001 | Cite as

Gender differences in drinking behavior during an economic collapse: evidence from Iceland

  • Thorhildur ÓlafsdóttirEmail author
  • Tinna Laufey Ásgeirsdóttir


In this study we exploit the 2008 Icelandic economic collapse to explore the effect of a macroeconomic downturn on drinking behavior across gender and types of drinkers. Using comprehensive panel data, we furthermore shed light on the role of real income and working hours as mechanisms that may explain changes in drinking patterns pre to post the collapse. The unique panel data is from 2007 to 2009, incidentally before and after the crisis hit, and was collected as a postal survey by The Directorate of Health. We specifically explore four outcomes: Frequency of any alcohol consumption, frequency of binge drinking, binge drinking participation and alcohol dependence, using pooled OLS and linear probability models. We find that women tend to decrease their frequency of any alcohol consumption and frequency of binge drinking more than men between waves but men show a stronger negative response to the crisis in binge drinking participation and alcohol dependence. Changes in individual income explain most of men’s reduction in drinking, but women’s drinking responses are not operating through labor-market mechanisms to the same extent. Other factors in the demand function for alcohol that changed during the crisis seem to play a greater role, most notably the real price of alcohol, which increased considerably following the economic collapse.


Economic collapse Alcohol consumption Drinking frequency Income Work hours Iceland 

JEL Classification

I10 I12 J01 



Financial support from the University of Iceland Research Fund, Edda Center of Excellence and the Icelandic Research Fund (Grant Number 130611-051) is gratefully acknowledged. We thank the Editor-in-Chief Shoshana Grossbard and two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments and suggestions. We also thank Birgir Hrafnkelsson and Helgi Tómasson for technical assistance and Dhaval Dave for constructive comments and feedback.

Conflict of interest

There are no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Supplementary material

11150_2015_9283_MOESM1_ESM.docx (137 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 138 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thorhildur Ólafsdóttir
    • 1
    Email author
  • Tinna Laufey Ásgeirsdóttir
    • 1
  1. 1.University of IcelandReykjavíkIceland

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