Feeds

Junk science and booze tax - a study in spin

Where's the beer?

Website security in corporate America

The defective model

The contemporary models he examined estimated the price elasticity of alcohol - the rise or fall in demand when the price changed. These models overlooked a number of variables, Dee found, which overshadowed conventional assumptions about elasticity. Dee also found that differences in alcohol consumption and pricing from state to state had also been overlooked. Once these were included, Dee concluded that "beer taxes have relatively small and statistically insignificant effects on teen drinking".

For the Sheffield study, Dee's work remains an obstacle they can't ignore. After devoting considerable space citing different alcohol elasticities, the researchers grudgingly concedes that there may be what they call a "potential confounding variable" at work here.

"Having taken this potential confounding variable into account, the effect of taxes on drinking disappeared," they admit, before going on to dismiss Dee's work.

Yet they cite evidence showing that he was essentially correct. "Reviews of demand models from 1989 and 1990 in the UK found that the demand for beer, wine, and spirits was generally price-inelastic", they write, undermining the entire point of the excercise. So the evidence stubbornly refuses to provide strong support for the policy direction the academics have been asked to justify.

More surprises follow in the second part of the study - the "model" - where we discover, after all, that "price increases are not matched by consumption reductions and overall spending on alcohol is estimated to increase".

In other words, consumption patterns remain the same, and drinkers absorb the cost. And what about the minimum pricing recommendation, which so captivated our newspapers last week?

"There is little empirical research investigating minimum pricing."

Oh.

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
JINGS! Microsoft Bing called Scots indyref RIGHT!
Redmond sporran metrics get one in the ten ring
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Murdoch to Europe: Inflict MORE PAIN on Google, please
'Platform for piracy' must be punished, or it'll kill us in FIVE YEARS
Bono: Apple will sort out monetising music where the labels failed
Remastered so hard it would be difficult or impossible to master it again
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
Sony says year's losses will be FOUR TIMES DEEPER than thought
Losses of more than $2 BILLION loom over troubled Japanese corp
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.