Portrait of Adam Smith

Adam Smith on how Government Regulation and Taxes might drive a Man to Drink (1766)

Found in: Lectures on Justice, Police, Revenue and Arms (1763)

In a discussion of how taxes diminish a nation’s “opulence”, Adam Smith has some interesting observations on the drinking habits of Europeans:

Food & Drink

Man is an anxious animal and must have his care swept off by something that can exhilarate the spirits. It is alledged that this tax upon beer is an artificial security against drunkeness, but if we attend to it, we shall find that it by no means prevents it. In countries where strong liquors are cheap, as in France and Spain, the people are generally sober. But in northern countries, where they are dear, they do not get drunk with beer but with spirituous liquors. No body presses his friend to a glass of beer unless he choose it.