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Alcohol and Inequalities

The adverse effects of alcohol are exacerbated among those from lower socioeconomic groups; this is especially the case for dependency, which is often accompanied by poor diet and general lack of money.

The difference between EU countries for healthy life expectancy ranges from 57-75 years (18 years) for women and from 57-71 (17 years) for men.

People who are socially disadvantaged or who live in socially disadvantaged areas experience more harm per gram of alcohol consumed than the better off.

Alcohol causes measurable inequalities both between and within Member States. Alcohol causes an estimated 90 extra deaths per 100.000 men and 60 extra deaths per 100.000 women between Eastern and Western Europe.

People in lower socioeconomic groups who drink heavily cannot protect themselves as well as those in more affluent groups, who can purchase social and spatial buffering of their behaviour. Low socioeconomic status renders a pattern of drinking more visible and makes the drinker more vulnerable to marginalisation and stigma.

Another important factor are social networks, changes in alcohol consumption among a person's social network have a significant effect on that person's subsequent behaviour, in terms of not drinking.

Resources and Publications

Alcohol accounts for a high proportion of premature mortality in central and eastern Europe

Rehm J, Sulkowska U, Manczuk M, Boffetta P, Powles J, Popova S, Zatonski W. Int J Epidemiol 2007 Apr; 36(2):458-67.

Comparing alcohol consumption in central and eastern Europe to other European countries

Popova S, Rehm J, Patra J, Zatonski W. Alcohol Alcohol 2007 Sep;42(5)465-73.

Alcohol: Equity and Social Determinants

Laura Schmidt, Pia Makela, Juergen Rehm, Robin Room in “Alcohol: Equity and Social Determinants.” In: Equity, Social Determinants and Public Health Programmes. World Health Publications, p. 11-31, 2010.