Effects of Beverage Alcohol Price and Tax Levels on Drinking

A meta-analysis of 112 studies examined the effects of increases in alcohol pricing or tax level on consumption of alcoholic beverages. The study finds that raising the cost of alcohol effectively reduces drinking across the broad population of drinkers.

Substantial literature over several decades has examined the relationship between alcohol cost and consumption, yet these studies' methodologies and interpretations differ significantly. This study systematically reviews this vast and varied literature. It cumulates evidence across 112 studies based on 1,003 statistical estimates, using a multilevel random-effects model to account for study-level variability.

Key Findings:  

  • There is a highly significant inverse relationship between alcohol tax or price measures and indices of sales or consumption of alcohol.
  • Alcohol cost affects drinking of all types of alcoholic beverages across the entire population of drinkers from light drinkers to heavy drinkers.

Given the low cost of adjusting alcohol tax policies, the global burden of disease and injury associated with alcohol, and the high fiscal and social costs of alcohol-related problems, this study's noteworthy evidence should encourage public policies that raising the price of alcohol may effectively reduce drinking. Future studies might examine price/tax effects on a range of relevant health and social outcomes.