Comparing alcohol affordability in 65 cities worldwide

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Journal article

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Drug and Alcohol Review

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Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


alcohol, affordability, income, alcohol use, price policy


Introduction and Aims: To develop a measure of alcohol affordability (AA) and compare the AA of 65 cities worldwide.

Design and Methods: In this paper, AA is defined as the proportion of median daily income needed to buy a certain quantity of certain alcoholic beverages. The income data and the price of alcoholic beverages were drawn from the Union Bank of Switzerland survey and the Economist Intelligence Unit respectively.

Results: A large majority of cities (87.7%, n = 57) had a high level of AA. The top 20 ranking was occupied by European and American cities with Tokyo in the Western Pacific region being the exception. All cities belonging to high-income countries had high levels of AA. However, two cities with low-level AA came from low-middle-income countries instead of low-income countries.

Discussion and Conclusions: The findings have shown that alcohol consumption is highly affordable in many cities. If price policy is being considered as policy instrument of alcohol control, it is in urgent need of price adjustments. More specifically, the new emerging economies play a significant role in the world alcohol control movement because of their bright economic performance with huge population size. Further studies on AA, especially periodical monitoring and its impacts on alcohol consumption and alcohol related health problems, should be conducted so as to facilitate the formulation and evaluation price measure of alcohol control.



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Copyright © 2012 Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs.

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Recommended Citation

Kan, M.-Y., & Lau, M. (2013). Comparing alcohol affordability in 65 cities worldwide. Drug and Alcohol Review, 32(1), 19-26. doi: 10.1111/j.1465-3362.2012.00476.x