It's five o'clock somewhere: An examination of the association between happy hour drinking and negative consequences


Background: This study aims to understand which young adults' drinking behaviors change in the presence of happy hour specials, the ways in which they change, and whether a link exists between happy hour drinking behavior and negative outcomes.

Methods: Using data collected from bar-going respondents (n = 1,423) within a print survey administered to a general college sample (n = 2,349), we identify significant differences in changes in happy hour behavior between demographic groups using χ2 tests and determine whether this behavior is related to six negative alcohol-related outcomes using logistical and ordinary least squares regression models with a variety of controls, including age of onset and frequency of use.

Results: Women, students under 21, non-athletes, members of Greek-affiliated organizations, more affluent and unemployed students, and students living on campus were more likely to change their drinking behavior in the presence of happy hour specials. In general, the most robust predictors of negative events are gender, alcohol use frequency, age of alcohol use onset, and increasing drinking due to happy hours/bar specials. While it was linked to various negative and illegal behaviors, altered happy hour drinking was not associated with an increased likelihood of an alcohol-related arrest.

Conclusions: This study lends support to the idea that alcohol price specials should be regulated in an effort to reduce high consumption and alcohol-related negative consequences. Future research into the relationship between happy hour drinking and negative outcomes is necessary and should examine the impact of happy hour advertisements, different types of specials, and the timing of happy hours.


Criminology and Criminal Justice

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Substance abuse treatment, prevention, and policy