Journal article

Exploring the relationship between macroeconomic conditions and problem drinking as captured by Google searches in the US

Paul Frijters, David W Johnston, Grace Lordan, Michael A Shields

Social Science & Medicine | PERGAMON-ELSEVIER SCIENCE LTD | Published : 2013

Abstract

There is considerable policy interest in the impact of macroeconomic conditions on health-related behaviours and outcomes. This paper sheds new light on this issue by exploring the relationship between macroeconomic conditions and an indicator of problem drinking derived from state-level data on alcoholism-related Google searches conducted in the US over the period 2004-2011. We find the current recessionary period coincided with an almost 20% increase in alcoholism-related searches. Controlling for state and time-effects, a 5% rise in unemployment is followed in the next 12 months by an approximate 15% increase in searches. The use of Internet searches to inform on health-related behaviours..

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