Economic harm

The products and practices of the alcohol industry cause enormous economic harm.

Movendi International is tracking the evidence and has a page of 120+ resource articles exposing the economic devastation caused by the alcohol industry – at household, community, and societal level.

Alcohol is a major obstacle to sustainable development and economic prosperity.

Big Alcohol harms productivity and causes loss of economic growth

  • recent worldwide overview revealed: the economic costs of alcohol harm amount to 1306 Int$ per adult, or 2.6% of GDP.
    • About one-third of costs due to alcohol (38.8%) were incurred through direct costs,
    • The majority of costs was due to losses in productivity (61.2%).
Economic loss due to alcohol industry
The economic costs of alcohol harm amount to 2.6% of GDP.

Chronic illnesses and conditions due to alcohol hinder individuals’ productive performance (due to absenteeism and presentism – reduction of productivity at work due to illnesses). Premature mortality implies that social resources devoted to, for instance, education and health, are not fully realised and are prematurely lost. Loss of income due to illness and mortality may affect households’ present and future well-being, creating a vicious cycle of lower human capital investment and poverty – according to Paraje and colleagues.

For example, a 2023 study revealed that premature deaths from cancer due to alcohol cost €4.58 Billion in productivity losses alone, in the European Union.

  • An estimated 23,300 cancer deaths in people aged < 65 years in Europe in 2018 were due to alcohol.
  • Premature deaths from alcohol-attributable cancer cost €4.58 billion in productivity losses.
  • Productivity losses equalled 0.027 % of the total Gross Domestic Product of the 31 countries in 2018.
€4.6 Bn
Productivity loss from cancer deaths due to alcohol
Premature deaths from alcohol-attributable cancer cost €4.58 billion in productivity losses.

Alcohol is the leading risk factor for death and disability among people aged 15 to 49 years worldwide. This is the age range in which people are typically at their most productive economically. Harm due to alcohol results in billions of dollars of lost wages each year.

Special Feature: How Big Alcohol Impedes Economic Growth and Productivity around the World

The products and practices of the alcohol industry drain precious resources from countries around the world. These heavy health, social, and economic costs are even more harmful now since governments need more resources to recover and build back better from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Movendi International produced a special feature revealing the economic harm caused by the alcohol industry in OECD countries, and specifically in Norway, Australia, Canada, Germany, Sweden, France, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and the UK, the United States, as well as low- and middle-income countries, such as Sri Lanka and India.
The Special Feature also explores concrete types of economic harm, such as workplace harm and productivity loss, as well as loss of economic growth, healthcare spending and more.

Economic harm in low- and middle-income countries

2018 study estimated present value of current and future economic cost due to alcohol harm for Sri Lanka in 2015 was US$885.86 million, 1.07% of GDP that year.

2019 study reported that the burden of alcohol in India cost the economy more than what the government spends on health. After adjusting for tax receipts from alcohol sale, the economic loss from adverse effects of alcohol consumption would reach about 1.45% of GDP


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