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Working paper

Do non-cognitive skills matter for alcohol consumption? Evidence from Russia

Economic and sociological research that touches upon the determinants of alcohol consumption is mostly centered on the traditional factors of human capital (e.g., education). While much attention is given to education as a valid instrument to reduce alcohol misuse, less is given to the impact of non-cognitive skills. Data are collected from a nationally representative Russian panel survey, 2016–2018. We estimate a random-effects probit model for the probability of abstinence and a random-effects tobit model with a Heckman correction for the volume of alcohol consumption. Non-cognitive skills are consistent predictors of drinking in Russia. In both genders, conscientiousness and extraversion have strong connections to the probability and the volume of alcohol consumption, while openness to experience and neuroticism only affect the volume. The estimates for education differ substantially when the Big Five variables are excluded from the model, which suggests that a major part of the effect of education on alcohol consumption patterns may be mediated through non-cognitive skills. Although educational interventions are often seen as a method of solving excessive drinking problems, introducing personality traits into the analysis raises the question of the effectiveness of such interventions.