Alcohol taxation, economic recession, and mortality changes in five European countries


  • Olena Tigova School of Public Health, NaUKMA, Ukraine
  • Konstantin S Krasovsky
  • Tatiana I Andreeva School of Public Health, National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Ukraine


mortality, economic crisis, alcohol, alcohol excise taxes, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine


BACKGROUND: Since 2008 some mortality decline is observed in several European countries including Latvia, Lithuania, and Ukraine. We hypothesized that this decline could be caused by decreased alcohol use facilitated by both economic recession and alcohol taxation. This study aimed to check this hypothesis.
METHODS: Besides the abovementioned countries which suffered from the economic recession and have increased alcohol excise taxes, we considered data from the WHO-Euro mortality database for Poland which did not suffer from GDP decline and Ireland which decreased alcohol excise in 2009. Both per capita GDP growth change (from -18% in Latvia to +2% in Poland) and alcohol excise change (from -20% in Ireland to +60% in Ukraine) compared to 2008 rates were considered as independent variables. The outcome was percentage of real mortality decline compared to 2009 extrapolation of 2000-2008 trends, which were built using linear regression separately for major groups of death causes earlier shown to have changed in 2009. Population groups aged 30-59 were considered as those whose mortality declined most.
RESULTS: Ten percent increase in alcohol excise taxes was associated with 9.4% decline in respiratory mortality from expected rate, 5.7% decline in causes of death related to nervous system, 4.9% decline in external causes of death, 4.8% decline in circulatory system deaths, 3.5% decline in infectious diseases as causes of death. Cardiovascular mortality decline was marginally associated with measurements of economic crisis (0.7% decline per 1% GDP fall).
DISCUSSION: During the economic recession, the portion of all-causes mortality that has declined is most likely alcohol-related. Death causes that have mostly declined during the recession are more strongly associated with alcohol taxation than with GDP fall. Cardiovascular deaths decline related to the economic crisis could have been related to diet changes including smaller proportion of fatty and conserved products and decreased alcohol use.
KEYWORDS: mortality, economic crisis, alcohol, alcohol excise taxes, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine.