Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Fed Minutes: "The Case for Getting Drunk at Work"

The headline at Yahoo:
Fed Sends Few Clues on Timing of QE3 Reduction

And our headline story, from MoneyBox:
Matt Robare asks: "Has anyone ever studied productivity gains from decline of 3-martini lunch + other day drinking?"
I don't know of any great papers that look at the specific history of this. It's worth noting that cause and effect can be hard to disentangle. Drinking at lunch went into decline in the late-1970s and early-1980s at the exact same time that a number of regulatory changes were implemented that were supposed to make American business less cozy and more competitive. Whether the change in drinking norms actually caused changes in productivity or were just a product of the larger trends is going to be hard to say. It is true that from what I've read about the history of alcohol prohibition in the 1920s that increased workforce productivity was an important goal of prohibition's elite supporters.

On the other hand, at least for people in non-routine jobs there's some evidence that moderate alcohol consumption could be beneficial. Here'sAndrew Jarosz, Gregory Colflesh, and Jennifer Wiley in "Uncorking the muse: Alcohol intoxication facilitates creative problem solving":
That alcohol provides a benefit to creative processes has long been assumed by popular culture, but to date has not been tested. The current experiment tested the effects of moderate alcohol intoxication on a common creative problem solving task, the Remote Associates Test (RAT). Individuals were brought to a blood alcohol content of approximately .075, and, after reaching peak intoxication, completed a battery of RAT items. Intoxicated individuals solved more RAT items...MORE
Meanwhile Hilsenrath writes:
Key Passages From Fed Minutes