Friday, February 20, 2009

Explaining the Beer Depression

Nate Silver over at posts a graph that shows that beer sales were down 10% in the fourth quarter of last year. This is surprising, because as the graph also show beer sales tend to hold up well even during a recession. Beer is cheap, and if you just lost your job you are probably more likely to reach for a cold one.

Nate Silver’s suggests the hops shortage that raised beer prices or switching to microbrews explain the huge drop. There is some evidence of price impacts the great data from the beer institute, which tracks the beer CPI, showing beer prices up 5%. I think a part of the cause might be that so far this rescission has been causing more job losses for men than women. Men are also more likely to buy beer. The gender imbalance of the current economic crisis was pointed out in a blog post last year (here), before things really got bad. In the 4th quarter of 2008 7.8% of males were unemployed compared to 6.1 females, this is an increase in the disparity of 6.1 to 5.6 in the 3rd quarter.

So maybe we should take our $8 and buy a nice six pack for the guy who lost his job, but not Bud, Miller, or Coors since they aren't owned by American companies. Let's give them a nice Sam Adams, who also tried to help during the hops crisis.

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