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Monday, May 28, 2012

The Economic Gains of Achieving Reduced Alcohol Consumption Targets for Australia

To inform prevention policy, we estimated the economic benefits to health, production, and leisure in the 2008 Australian population of a realistic target reduction in per capita annual adult alcohol consumption.

We chose a target of 6.4 liters annually per capita on average. We modeled lifetime health benefits as fewer incident cases of alcohol-related disease, deaths, and disability adjusted life years. We estimated production gains with surveyed participation and absenteeism rates. We valued gains with friction cost and human capital methods. We estimated and valued household production and leisure gains from time-use surveys.

A reduction of 3.4 liters of alcohol consumed annually per capita would result in one third fewer incident cases of disease (98 000), deaths (380), working days lost (5 million), days of home-based production lost (54 000), and a A$ 789-million health sector cost reduction. Workforce production had a A$ 427 million gain when we used the friction cost method. By contrast, we estimated a loss of 28 000 leisure days and 1000 additional early retirements.

Economic savings and health benefits from reduced alcohol consumption may be substantial—particularly in the health sector with reduced alcohol-related disease and injury.

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