Alcohol Prices and Harm from Alcohol Abuse

Are alcohol prices and harm from misuse of alcohol related? It’s often suggested that we should increase taxes on alcohol to reduce harms. Some people suggest requiring minimum prices for alcohol. Would raising the price of alcohol be an effective deterrent to DWI? Or to other problems?

Researchers wanted to answer this question. To do this, they made a complete review of natural experiments in nine countries. They studied policy changes that affected alcohol taxes and prices. The researchers studied 69 alcohol-related harms reported in studies over a period of 12 years.

A total of 45 studies were analyzed. The nine countries were Australia, China, and Denmark. Also Finland, Iceland, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, and the US.

alcohol prices and harmThe results showed no clear patterns from increasing alcohol prices. This was true within countries. It was also true across countries.

This lack of pattern shouldn’t be surprising. Many factors affect alcohol harm. These include age, religion, ethnicity, race, and gender, As well as education, background, occupation, and many more.

These findings are important for public policy.

Simple solutions to complex problems rarely work. So we should not be surprised  that simply raising the price of alcohol would be any different.


Readings: Alcohol Prices and Harm