The truth is that monogamy and alcohol consumption are merely correlated and that some third factor, most likely industrialization, is independently driving both the transition to monogamy and the increased alcohol consumption. Correlation without causality doesn’t usually make for very good economic literature, but the authors get full marks for creativity. We have discussed the argument for why industrialization leads to monogamy before here at Dollars and Sex so I won’t go into that other than to say that industrialization shifts wealth generation away from land ownership towards skilled labor increasing the demand for skilled wives (who produce skilled children) and reducing the number of wives in a household. Alcohol consumption also increases following industrialization, perhaps because technological innovation increases the profitability of producing cheap alcohol or because a household’s income needs to increase above the subsistence level before alcohol is consumed in any large quantities.
Duke Ellington, Bill Evans, and One Night in New York City
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