A study recently performed by the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) – putting the social costs of student boozing at some EUR 47 million per year due to study delays – is best done over. This is concluded by three EUR economists in the specialist journal ESB.

Last month the RIVM researchers published a hefty report claiming that alcohol costs society between two and three billion euros per year. These costs relate to, for example, traffic accidents, policing, absence due to illness and health issues. But according to RIVM, the costs of students falling behind with their studies are also quite substantial. “We have assumed that alcohol-related factors in study delays only occur among binge-drinking students,” write the RIVM researchers. Making an ‘educated guess’, RIVM ultimately sets the total costs of student boozing at EUR 47 million.


But economists Matthijs Oosterveen, Bas Jacobs and Albert Jan Hummel wholeheartedly question these conclusions. According to the three, the report is ‘built on quicksand from a welfare economics perspective’, the researchers have drawn conclusions that ‘should not have been drawn based on the information in the report’ and the study contains a number of serious flaws. The economists say that specific costs have been tallied twice and that there are various issues with the adopted methodology.

RIVM Researchers Wim Spit and Ardine de Wit have since responded to these points of criticism. They say that they ‘welcome the debate’, but that they do not agree with the economists because ‘the criticism does not take account of the non-rational and addictive nature of alcohol consumption’.