Wealthy, Educated Men Drink the Most, OECD Study Says
PARIS, May 12 (UPI) — Men who are wealthy and have more education are more likely to drink alcohol than anyone else, a global study by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development said.
Though these men with a higher socioeconomic status — usually white men — tend to drink most, the study found that wealthy women and poor men are most likely to take part in “hazardous drinking.”
Meanwhile, the drinking habits of young, educated and rich women are growing closer to the levels of men in the same demographic group. And people in minority ethnic groups drink less than the majority of a population in a given OECD country.
Overall, the report found adults in OECD countries drink on average the equivalent of more than 100 bottles of wine each year. Young people and women are drinking more thanks to decreasing costs and more effective advertising, the report said.
“No single variable predicts the likelihood that a person will adopt a given pattern of consuming alcohol,” the study says. “Heavy drinking is associated with a lesser probability of being in employment, more absence from work, lower productivity and wages, and a greater likelihood of causing accidents and injuries in the workplace.”
Beyond just dealing with the odd hangover, heavy drinking can come with a heavy price.
The report found that the effects of drinking can cost a country about 1 percent of its economic growth. In the United States, where the economy grew by $650 billion last year, heavy drinking could have cost the country some $6.5 billion on health expenses and crime in 2014.
In order to reduce the heavy consumption of alcohol, the OECD recommends increasing the price of alcohol through taxes or raising the minimum price of alcoholic products. The study said a 10 percent increase in the cost of alcohol would reduce consumption by 1.7 percent on the low end (in men under 25 who engage in harmful drinking) and up to 6 percent (in adult women who moderately drink).
“The cost to society and the economy of excessive alcohol consumption around the world is massive, especially in OECD countries,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría, launching the report in Paris. “This report provides clear evidence that even expensive alcohol abuse prevention policies are cost-effective in the long run and underlines the need for urgent action by governments.”