NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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March Madness: NCAA Tournament Participation and College Alcohol Use

Dustin R. White, Benjamin W. Cowan, Jadrian Wooten

NBER Working Paper No. 23821
Issued in September 2017
NBER Program(s):Economics of Education, Health Economics

We examine the impact of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament on college students’ drinking behavior using a nationally representative sample of American institutions. While success in intercollegiate athletics may augment the visibility of a university to prospective students and thereby benefit the school, it may also have a negative effect on the current student body by influencing risky behavior, especially the consumption of alcohol commonly associated with game day festivities. Using the Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Study (CAS), we find that a school’s participation in the NCAA Tournament is associated with a 30% increase in binge drinking and a 9% increase in self-reported drunk driving by male students at that school. The results suggest that this increase is not offset by less alcohol use before or after the tournament (intertemporal substitution) but instead seems to represent a net increase in the amount of alcohol consumed by students at participating schools.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w23821

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