Ride-hailing services and alcohol consumption: Longitudinal analysis

Gordon Burtch, Brad N. Greenwood, Jeffrey S. McCullough

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Alcohol consumption is associated with a wide range of adverse health consequences and a leading cause of preventable deaths. Ride-hailing services such as Uber have been found to prevent alcohol-related motor vehicle fatalities. These services may, however, facilitate alcohol consumption generally and binge drinking in particular. Objective: The goal of the research is to measure the impact of ride-hailing services on the extent and intensity of alcohol consumption. We allow these associations to depend on population density as the use of ride-hailing services varies across markets. Methods: We exploit the phased rollout of the ride-hailing platform Uber using a difference-in-differences approach. We use this variation to measure changes in alcohol consumption among a local population following Uber's entry. Data are drawn from Uber press releases to capture platform entry and the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Systems (BRFSS) Annual Survey to measure alcohol consumption in 113 metropolitan areas. Models are estimated using fixed-effects Poisson regression. Pre- and postentry trends are used to validate this approach. Results: Ride-hailing has no association with the extent of alcohol consumption in high (0.61 [95% CI -0.05% to 1.28%]) or low (0.61 [95% CI -0.05% to 1.28%]) density markets, but is associated with increases in the binge drinking rate in high-density markets (0.71 [95% CI 0.13% to 1.29%]). This corresponds to a 4% increase in binge drinking within a Metropolitan Statistical Area. Conclusions: Ride-hailing services are associated with an increase in binge drinking, which has been associated with a wide array of adverse health outcomes. Drunk driving rates have fallen for more than a decade, while binge drinking continues to climb. Both trends may be accelerated by ride-hailing services. This suggests that health information messaging should increase emphasis on the direct dangers of alcohol consumption and binge drinking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere15402
JournalJournal of medical Internet research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 27 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Gordon Burtch, Brad N Greenwood, Jeffrey S McCullough. Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (http://www.jmir.org), 27.01.2021. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on http://www.jmir.org/, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.


  • Alcohol consumption
  • Binge drinking
  • Difference in differences
  • Drunk driving
  • Ride-hailing
  • Road traffic safety
  • Uber

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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