Friday, 23 November 2012

"What if?" lecture (Wednesday 28 November, 7.30 – 9.00pm)

Next week's University of Canterbury "What If?" lecture will be given by Dr Eric Crampton on the topic:
What if alcohol was not as socially costly as everyone says?
In his review of New Zealand's alcohol legislation, Law Commissioner Rt. Hon. Sir Geoffrey Palmer pointed to the large gap between alcohol's social costs, estimated at $5.3 billion, and the excise tax take of $795 million as justifying much tighter controls. But what if the cost figure were wildly wrong? Should we really consider, for example, $700 million of drinkers' own expenditures on alcohol as a social cost? Dr. Crampton will discuss his work comparing social costs, as measured in the public health literature, with more standard economic notions of cost. For economic numbers to meaningfully inform policy, they must be produced using standard economic methods that allow comparison of costs across different policy areas. Dr. Crampton will then discuss the influence of bad statistics around alcohol on the Law Commission's review and on legislation before noting some of the other, less publicized, findings around alcohol and moderate drinking. While the harms from hazardous drinking are very real, exaggerating alcohol's harmful effects while ignoring moderate drinkers' enjoyment makes for poor policy.
Date:            Wednesday 28 November

Time:            7.30 – 9.00pm

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