it's no lubbock
Via Mark Perry's blog, here's a fascinating map of world alcohol consumption per capita. Check out Africa. I'm trying to figure out what (if anything) explains the variation:
- The countries with the highest levels of consumption are Nigeria and Burundi. Is there something about massive corruption (Nigeria) or long conflicts (Burundi) that would explain it? If so, why don't we see super-high levels of consumption in places like the Congo?
- Religion doesn't seem to play a surprising role. Alcohol consumption is low in predominantly Islamic countries and high in places that are mostly Christian or divided in terms of religious tradition.
- Could it be tourism levels? Rwanda, Tanzania, South Africa, Namibia, and Botswana all have great tourist infrastructures. Each has somewhat elevated or mid-range alcohol consumption levels as well. Then again, so do Angola and Zimbabwe, and no package tourist in his right mind goes on vacation in those places.
- Maybe it's the presence of international aid workers and other expats. That might explain Burundi; the population is relatively small with a high number of expats relative to that population. (Lakeside Bujumbura is a nice place to be posted, except for the occasional rocket attack.)
- Price? Is beer cheaper in Nigeria than elsewhere in West Africa? I know that in many places in Eastern and Central Africa, beer is often less expensive than bottled water.
- Other economic factors might matter. Poverty is so widespread on the continent, but there are real differences between countries in relation to GDP and economic growth. I don't see a pattern here at all.
- Might colonial heritage have something to do with it? Among those with elevated consumption levels are lots of former British colonies - Nigeria, Tanzania, Botswana, and Zimbabwe. An even clearer pattern emerges when you look at former German colonies (Germany lost all its colonies after World War I. They were divided up and other colonial powers took control of the territories as protectorates. Just before World War II, one of the more moronic parts of Nevile Chamberlain's appeasement plan was to return the African colonies to Hitler. Hitler declined the offer.): Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Namibia, and Cameroon all fit the description.
- Of course, there's some correlation with being a post-conflict situation, which probably means that the presence of international humanitarian aid and development workers skews the results. Liberia, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Burundi, and Angola all have elevated consumption levels. DR Congo does not, but it's not really post anything as of yet.