Friday, 29 January 2016

Peer effects and the rise of beer in Russia

Volume 51, February 2015, Pages 83–96


Beer consumption in Russia grew fivefold between 1995 and 2005 while vodka consumption declined.
Rising beer consumption is the result of more people switching to beer and not of existing consumers drinking more beer.
Peer effects play an important role in spreading the adoption of beer consumption.
By contrast, economic factors seem to play a minor role.


Between 1996 and 2007, per capita beer consumption in Russia more than quintupled, making beer the most important alcoholic drink in Russia today and transforming Russia into the world’s third largest beer market. We study the role of peer effects in this rapid adoption of beer. In particular, we argue that the initial ‘shocks’ of improvements in quality and increased advertising were magnified through peer effects. Using detailed data from the Russian Longitudinal Monitoring Survey, we analyze the individual choice to drink beer, controlling for a wide range of potential factors. Our results indicate that peer effects played an important role as a ‘transmission mechanism’ in persuading consumers to start drinking beer. In contrast, changes in prices and incomes seem to have played only a minor role.


  • Peer effects;
  • Russia;
  • Beer consumption
Corresponding author. Tel.: +32 16 326582; fax: +32 16 326599.