Health Economics eJournal | 2019
Do Ridesharing Services Increase Alcohol Consumption?
Recent studies show ridesharing services, such as Uber and Lyft, reduce intoxicated driving. However, ridesharing may also have negative health effects by increasing alcohol consumption. In this paper, we directly examine the effect of ridesharing on drinking activity. Our approach leverages variation in the existence and entry timing of Uber s taxi-like service, UberX, across the United States. Using self-reported measures of alcohol consumption, we estimate that UberX is associated with a 3.1% increase in the average number of drinks consumed per day, a 2.8% increase in number of drinking days per month, a 4.9% increase in the maximum number of drinks consumed on one occasion, and a 9% increase in the prevalence of heavy drinking. When we focus on areas with relatively weaker public transit options, we estimate UberX is associated with a 17.5% to 21.8% increase in instances of binge drinking. Using administrative data, we support our findings by showing that UberX is associated with a 2.4% increase in employment and a 2.3% increase in total earnings at drinking establishments. Our results imply that the net social impact of ridesharing is more complicated than the existing literature and policy debates suggest.