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Economics of…hangovers

We’ve all done questionable things when we’re drunk. Take the time I woke up in a moistened bed nestled between an unknown man covered in blood and an inflatable goat. The situation was only worsened when, as I learnt over his sweat-drenched back to check my phone, I discovered a £600 one-way flight to Cuba. As I bit my fist, picturing my self-imposed exile in Havana, I had to ask whether drinking is ever a good investment when the hangover is so painful.

Getting pissed has continuously been a concern for governments, not necessarily because they care about our health, but because of its enormous cost to the economy. It is not surprising that, with the exception of depressed French poets, drinking greatly reduces our efficiency. Try working the night after two bottles of wine and you will appreciate this. The problem, however, is far greater than just a hung over anecdote by the water cooler about ‘the night before’.

p.17 HungoverEach year hangovers cost the UK economy around £2.8 billion, a figure roughly equivalent to the government’s spending on A&E. The research carried out by Reed recruiting found that, on average, workers spent 2.5 days a year hungover on the job. One-in-three employees admitted to taking five days off. Christmas parties alone cost the economy £216 million in 2012.

In pure monetary terms, a research group in America calculated that each drink consumed has a $1.90 cost on lost productivity. Hangovers are an ordeal, but are made even worse when you consider that the UK loses as much from them as we give the entirety of Africa in aid.

So are there any economic advantages to the hangover? According to Men’s Health, the top five hangover cures involve putting something back into our economy. By eating delicious, fried bacon rashers you are supporting the UK’s dwindling agriculture sector, whilst taking a couple of painkillers fund the countries significant pharmaceutical industry, which in turn will be reinvested in new, vital drug research (including, with any luck, a much needed hangover pill).

Of course, you can’t talk about hangovers without briefly mentioning drinking. I’m not saying the Government has a vested interest in us boozing, but to take away that revenue would leave a considerable gap in our economy. Taxation and alcohol duties bring in a healthy £14.6 billion every year whilst it costs the NHS directly – through abuse and alcohol related accidents – roughly £3 billion. Add on top of this the lost ‘hangover’ productivity and alcohol is an investment which has a threefold return for our country (not to mention the amount of jobs supported by breweries and pubs). Perhaps it is worth the hangover after all .

As Freshers you will no doubt experience the dreaded hangover on a regular basis, but do not fret! As long as you don’t discover you have invested your student loan in a Ponzi scheme, you have made a contribution to keeping our country running. Of course, the best thing you can do is drink and not go to hospital, therefore chipping into our economy without costing it a penny! So have fun, happy hangover and drink responsibly!

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