My Resolution: Stay Up Late and Drink More Alcohol



With the new year soon upon us, so is the time for resolutions. Let the list begin: losing weight, exercising more often, quality time with the family, being more productive at work. However feeble the follow-through, the goal must be high-minded and forward thinking, putting our best selves first. But I have a few resolutions this year that definitely defy convention: I intend to stay up late and drink more alcohol.

Studies have lent support to the idea that moderate drinkers are also more successful and better educated.

While this is something most party animals can get behind, the reasons are far nobler than you might think. It turns out that those of us late to rise are also more productive than those who get up early. According to a study conducted at the Université de Liège in Belgium, quoted in an article on, those who woke later outperform early birds in endurance. While both groups performed tasks equally well upon rising, it was the night owl who performed better after the tenth hour.

Other studies have lent support to the idea that moderate drinkers are also more successful and better educated than their teetotaling brethren. From an article on Join Together, a project by Boston University's School of Public Health, citing data from U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics report on "Health Behaviors of Adults: United States, 2005-2007":

The study found a distinct correlation between income and education level and alcohol use, but not one that fits with the stereotype of the poor, ignorant drunk. In fact, current drinking levels increased steadily alongside education, with holders of masters, doctorate, or medical degrees far more likely to drink (73.9 percent) than individuals who did not graduate from high school (44.3 percent). The richest Americans also were much more likely to drink than those living below poverty level.

Before you chalk it up to a chicken-and-egg argument, Arthur C. Brooks, writing for Forbes magazine, gets more to the point about income and variables:

In 2001, the University of Michigan's Panel Study of Income Dynamics found that light drinkers (one to two drinks a day) had a mean income of $49,000, versus $36,000 among teetotalers. This is a nuanced statistic; drinking may be associated with other variables (like education) that influence income. So the researchers did their best to strip these other causes out. If two adults were identical with respect to education, age, family status, race and religion, except that the first had one or two drinks each night after work while the second was a teetotaler, the drinker would tend to enjoy a "drinker's bonus" of about 10% higher income.

Now, it's important to note that when drinkers exceeded a certain number of drinks (2.6 per night for men and 1.5 per night for women), their incomes drop and continue to do so the more they drink, and obviously I wouldn't encourage abstainers to drink if alcoholism is a factor to begin. But for those of you who shun drink and dilatoriness—thinking you're getting ahead in the game—perhaps you should change your resolutions too. After all, it's not the wine-fearing warbler that gets the worm but the hooched-up hoot owl.