According to a study by the London School of Economics, British women with degrees are 86 percent more likely to drink frequently and to report having a drinking problem than those women without post-secondary education. The more education a woman has, the more likely she is to hit the bottle. As a graduate school educated young woman who had to do some quick mental math to remember when she last imbibed (spiked eggnog at Christmas?), I couldn't help but find find this story fascinating.
Photo by jawcey
What could be motivating our British sisters to turn to the sauce? The Telegraph article on the study suggests several reasons for the correlation - active social lives, holding jobs in male-dominated workplaces with drinking cultures, having grown up with middle-class parents who drank - but these are all fairly mundane (if not a bit facile). I prefer to imagine that a plethora of examples of sex-based workplace inequality are literally driving women to drink. There's the fact that only 13 of the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies are women. Or how about the recent news that newly-minted female MBAs make an average of $4600 less than their male counterparts at their first post-grad jobs? Or maybe they've been worrying their pretty little heads about the prospect of becoming a home owner? Or they've stumbled across some career advice like this and decided it called for a stiff drink? Bottoms up, girls!
As legitimate and concerning as these issues are (and facetious treatment aside, they most certainly are), I can't help but wonder if there is a more existential link between educational attainment and drinking behavior. Does increased education, whether by prolonged absence from the "reality" of the workforce or the inculcation of a certain academic analytical perspective (which could easily be turned inward after the days of paper writing are done), reach a point at which it provides negative returns to scale in the form of dissatisfaction with one's life/surroundings/context/crippling debt load, which is, in turn, mitigated and self-medicated by the consumption (or overconsumption) of alcohol? Could the link really come down to a case of mo' education, mo' problems?
You have my permission to mull over that little theory with a glass of wine in hand.