The study was conducted by Dr. You Zhou and published in the Regional Science and Urban Economic Journal. The study looked at 117 urban areas of the United States in which Uber has been operating as early as 2012. For each city or town, health data on around 1,800 adults was analyzed. Analysis was conducted on how often each individual in the study consumed alcohol over a 30-day period, as well as how often they consumed either four alcoholic beverages (for women) or five (for men) on a single occasion – taken as binge alcohol use – during the same period.
The study found that since Uber came to town:
- Binge alcohol use increased by 2.2% to 3.7% in respective towns and cities.
- Alcohol using days did not increase, remaining at mostly weekends, but, people were engaging in more heavy episodic alcohol consumption on these days.
- The biggest impact was observed among men, rather than women, younger rather than older adults — and among the middle classes.
Uber’s presence encourages individuals to involve themselves in binge [alcohol use],’ said Dr. You Zhou, study author from the University of Hong Kong, as per the Daily Mail.Dr. You Zhou, study author, University of Hong Kong
Dr. Zhou believes the study illustrates people’s attitudes that since there is a cheap ride-share app they no longer need to drive themselves and they no longer have to be coherent enough to use public transport or a normal taxi cab either. These attitudes are resulting in people consuming more alcohol. Ride-share services in general and Uber specifically are also a lot cheaper than normal taxi cabs, making this service widely available.
The new study adds to previous evidence that Uber has increased heavy alcohol use, which was on the decline before Uber came to towns and cities.
While it is good that people do not drive while under the influence of alcohol, the negative impact of Uber and ride-sharing apps cannot be ignored. There is mounting evidence that increasing binge alcohol use and heavy alcohol use are serious threats to public health and safety since increased alcohol consumption means increased harm and disease burden – which fuels a host of other social, economic and sustainability issues.
The evidence also highlights the problems linked to the alcohol industry’s designated driver programs.
The results contribute to the debate on Uber’s social impacts, and policymakers can use the implications of the study to improve alcohol control policies,” said Dr. You Zhou, study author from the University of Hong Kong, as per the Daily Mail.Dr. You Zhou, study author, University of Hong Kong