OECD report sheds light on human, economic cost of alcohol consumption

Excessive alcohol consumption causes 1.1M premature deaths in OECD, EU, G20 countries, says new report.

OECD report sheds light on human, economic cost of alcohol consumption

Diseases and injuries from alcohol consumption above 1 to 1.5 drinks per day lead to medicinal costs that equal about 2.4% of total health expenditure each year, according to a report released by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on Wednesday.

“Combined with the impact on labor force productivity, it is estimated that GDP will be 1.6% lower on average in OECD countries annually over the next 30 years, varying from 0.2% in Turkey to 3.8% in Lithuania,” read the report titled Preventing Harmful Alcohol Use.

The OECD urged governments to ramp up efforts to curb harmful alcohol consumption, pointing out that investing in such policies “would save millions of lives.”

For every $1 invested, up to $16 is returned in economic benefit, excluding the impact on alcohol-related businesses, said the report.

It said excessive alcohol consumption leads to 1.1 million premature deaths in OECD, the EU, and G20 countries.

An analysis of 52 OECD, EU, and G20 countries shows that life expectancy will be 0.9 years lower over the next 30 years due to diseases and injuries caused by drinking more than one drink per day for women and 1.5 drinks per day for men according to the report.

“This estimate varies widely across countries, which reflects the level of alcohol consumption and the provision of health care services. The largest reductions in life expectancy are estimated in Central and Eastern European countries,” the OECD said.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting lockdowns have had a negative impact on drinking habits, with more people reporting an increase in volume and frequency of drinking compared to the number drinking less, the report said.

An analysis showed that women, parents of young children, people with higher income, and those with anxiety and depressive symptoms reported the highest increase in alcohol consumption during lockdowns in countries such as Australia, Belgium, France, the UK, and the US.

A surge in domestic violence was an apparent consequence of the increase in alcohol consumption, according to the OECD report, as emergency calls for domestic violence were up 60% in EU countries during lockdown periods.