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Effects of alcohol tax and price policies on morbidity and mortality: A systematic review


  • Wagenaar, A.C.
  • Tobler, A.L.
  • Komro, K.A.


Objectives. We systematically reviewed the effects of alcohol taxes and prices on alcohol-related morbidity and mortality to assess their public health impact. Methods. We searched 12 databases, along with articles reference lists, for studies providing estimates of the relationship between alcohol taxes and prices and measures of risky behavior or morbidity and mortality, then coded for effect sizes and numerous population and study characteristics. We combined independent estimates in random-effects models to obtain aggregate effect estimates. Results. We identified 50 articles, containing 340 estimates. Meta-estimates ere r=-0.347 for alcohol-related disease and injury outcomes, -0.022 for iolence, -0.048 for suicide, -0.112 for traffic crash outcomes, -0.055 for sexuallytransmitted diseases, -0.022 for other drug use, and -0.014 for crime and other misbehavior measures. All except suicide were statistically significant. Conclusions. Public policies affecting the price of alcoholic beverages have significant effects on alcohol-related disease and injury rates. Our results suggest that doubling the alcohol tax would reduce alcohol-related mortality by an average of 35%, traffic crash deaths by 11%, sexually transmitted disease by 6%, violence by 2%, and crime by 1.4%.

Suggested Citation

  • Wagenaar, A.C. & Tobler, A.L. & Komro, K.A., 2010. "Effects of alcohol tax and price policies on morbidity and mortality: A systematic review," American Journal of Public Health, American Public Health Association, vol. 100(11), pages 2270-2278.
  • Handle: RePEc:aph:ajpbhl:10.2105/ajph.2009.186007_1
    DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2009.186007

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    1. Fiona O’May & Jan Gill & Heather Black & Cheryl Rees & Jonathan Chick & Barbara McPake, 2016. "Heavy Drinkers’ Perspectives on Minimum Unit Pricing for Alcohol in Scotland," SAGE Open, , vol. 6(3), pages 21582440166, July.
    2. Marcus, Jan & Siedler, Thomas, 2015. "Reducing binge drinking? The effect of a ban on late-night off-premise alcohol sales on alcohol-related hospital stays in Germany," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, pages 55-77.
    3. Jon P. Nelson, 2014. "Gender Differences In Alcohol Demand: A Systematic Review Of The Role Of Prices And Taxes," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 23(10), pages 1260-1280, October.
    4. Kolosnitsyna, Marina (Колосницына, Марина) & Khorkina, Natalia (Хоркина, Наталья) & Dorjiev, Khongor (Доржиев, Хонгор), 2015. "The impact of price measures of state alcohol policy on the consumption of alcoholic beverages in Russia [Влияние Ценовых Мер Государственной Антиалкогольной Политики На Потребление Спиртных Напитк," Economic Policy, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, vol. 5, pages 171-190.
    5. Anurag Sharma & Fabrice Etilé & Kompal Sinha, 2016. "The Effect of Introducing a Minimum Price on the Distribution of Alcohol Purchase: A Counterfactual Analysis," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 25(9), pages 1182-1200, September.
    6. Freeman, Donald G., 2012. "Is Beer Safer than Spirits? How the Change in Consumption Shares of Alcoholic Beverage Types Affects Traffic Mortality in Young People," German Journal of Agricultural Economics, Humboldt-Universitaet zu Berlin, Department for Agricultural Economics, vol. 61(04), pages 1-11, November.
    7. Nelson, Jon P. & McNall, Amy D., 2016. "Alcohol prices, taxes, and alcohol-related harms: A critical review of natural experiments in alcohol policy for nine countries," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 120(3), pages 264-272.
    8. Jon P. Nelson & Amy D. McNall, 2017. "What happens to drinking when alcohol policy changes? A review of five natural experiments for alcohol taxes, prices, and availability," The European Journal of Health Economics, Springer;Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gesundheitsökonomie (DGGÖ), vol. 18(4), pages 417-434, May.
    9. Nandi Siegfried & Charles Parry, 2019. "Do alcohol control policies work? An umbrella review and quality assessment of systematic reviews of alcohol control interventions (2006 – 2017)," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 14(4), pages 1-23, April.
    10. Indrek Saar, 2011. "Optimal alcohol taxation: Simulation results for Estonia," Baltic Journal of Economics, Baltic International Centre for Economic Policy Studies, vol. 11(1), pages 65-90, July.
    11. Anne Ludbrook & Dennis Petrie & Lynda McKenzie & Shelley Farrar, 2012. "Tackling alcohol misuse," Applied Health Economics and Health Policy, Springer, vol. 10(1), pages 51-63, January.
    12. Jon P. Nelson, 2015. "Alcohol Prices and Mortality Due to Liver Cirrhosis," SAGE Open, , vol. 5(2), pages 21582440155, June.
    13. Byrne, Paul & Nizovtsev, Dmitri, 2017. "Exploring the effects of state differences in alcohol retail restrictions," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 15-24.
    14. Kabir Dasgupta, 2019. "Youth response to state cyberbullying laws," New Zealand Economic Papers, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 53(2), pages 184-202, May.
    15. Saffer, Henry & Gehrsitz, Markus, 2016. "The effect of post-and-hold laws on alcohol consumption," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 63-71.
    16. Bryden, Anna & Petticrew, Mark & Mays, Nicholas & Eastmure, Elizabeth & Knai, Cecile, 2013. "Voluntary agreements between government and business—A scoping review of the literature with specific reference to the Public Health Responsibility Deal," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 110(2), pages 186-197.
    17. Venuleo, Claudia & Calogiuri, Sara & Rollo, Simone, 2015. "Unplanned reaction or something else? The role of subjective cultures in hazardous and harmful drinking," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 139(C), pages 9-17.
    18. Jon P. Nelson, 2014. "Reply To A Comment By Ludbrook, Holmes, And Stockwell: Gender Differences In Alcohol Demand," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 23(10), pages 1284-1286, October.
    19. Anne Ludbrook & John Holmes & Tim Stockwell, 2014. "Gender Differences In Alcohol Demand: A Systematic Review Of The Role Of Prices And Taxes. Comment On Conclusions By Nelson," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 23(10), pages 1281-1283, October.
    20. Wolf, Achim & Gray, Ron & Fazel, Seena, 2014. "Violence as a public health problem: An ecological study of 169 countries," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 220-227.
    21. Ce Shang & Anh Ngo & Frank J. Chaloupka, 2020. "The pass-through of alcohol excise taxes to prices in OECD countries," The European Journal of Health Economics, Springer;Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gesundheitsökonomie (DGGÖ), vol. 21(6), pages 855-867, August.
    22. Barrie M. Craven & Michael L. Marlow & Alden F. Shiers, 2013. "The Economics of Minimum Pricing for Alcohol," Economic Affairs, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 33(2), pages 174-189, June.

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