Feeds

Junk science and booze tax - a study in spin

Where's the beer?

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

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.

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Hello, police, El Reg here. Are we a bunch of terrorists now?
Do Brits risk arrest for watching beheading video nasty? We asked the fuzz
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
UK government accused of hiding TRUTH about Universal Credit fiasco
'Reset rating keeps secrets on one-dole-to-rule-them-all plan', say MPs
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Yes, but what are your plans if a DRAGON attacks?
Local UK gov outs most ridiculous FoI requests...
Felony charges? Harsh! Alleged Anon hackers plead guilty to misdemeanours
US judge questions harsh sentence sought by prosecutors
This'll end well: US govt says car-to-car jibber-jabber will SAVE lives
Department of Transportation starts cogs turning for another wireless comms standard
Munich considers dumping Linux for ... GULP ... Windows!
Give a penguinista a hug, the Outlook's not good for open source's poster child
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.