The percentage of spending dedicated to booze goes up, too.

By Mike Pomranz
Updated June 14, 2019
Credit: Martin Poole/Getty Images

It’s important to always be smart about your alcohol consumption — but what about being more “educated” about your drinking? Some recently surfaced data suggests that, indeed, people with higher levels of education like college degrees spend significantly more on booze than those who never finished high school.

This week, Visual Capitalist provided its analysis of “How Americans Make and Spend Their Money, by Education Level.” The site looked at the earnings and spending of four groups — less than high school graduates, high school graduates, those with bachelor’s degrees, and those with graduate degrees — using data pulled from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and visually compiled by Engaging Data. Though spending is broken down across about 20 categories, this is Food & Wine, not Food & Utilities, so it’s especially interesting to hone in on alcohol spending — and the numbers reveal that as education level increases, not only does spending on alcohol increase (which would make sense since income levels increase, too), but the proportion of income that people spend on alcohol increases as well.

The average household spending for those without a high school diploma is said to be $28,245, and this group spends $102 per year on alcohol or just 0.4 percent of their total budget, according to the data. For high school graduates, that goes up to $276 and 0.8 percent of spending. But for households with bachelor degrees, annual alcohol expenses jump to $760, or 1.2 percent of their $63,373 yearly average spending. And for households with a master’s degree or higher, booze expenses are listed at $992 per year. That equals about $19 per week, or just enough money to get yourself a decent bottle of wine every weekend.

Though no explanation is provided as to why this correlation may exist, NBC News does point out that, beyond higher income, the averages could also be affected by the fact that lower education levels correlate with less drinking in general. A 2015 report from Gallup found that eight out of ten college graduates said they drink occasionally compared to just half of respondents with only a high school education. But in defense of those in higher education, I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to write a dissertation without Scotch.