Alcohol consumption ‘costs Sweden 20 billion’

Alcohol consumption in Sweden cost society 20.3 billion kronor in 2002, according to a new report from researchers at Stockholm and Lund universities.

Around half of the cost, about 10 billion kronor, was due to loss of productivity caused by alcohol consumption. Healthcare costs accounted for 2.2 billion kronor. Increased criminality due to alcohol consumption was estimated to have cost 3 billion kronor.

The estimates calculated taking into account both negative and positive consequences of alcohol consumption, so factors such as the fact that alcohol has been shown to prevent certain chronic illnesses was weighed into the costs.

The study did not take into account the contribution the proceeds from the manufacture and sale of alcohol make to the economy. Nor did researchers weigh in the amount the state receives in alcohol tax revenues, calculated last year to be 10 billion kronor. Robin Room, project leader on the study, said not counting this was in line with standard practice in economics.

“There’s a message from the report that this is a serious problem. Sweden has a problem with alcohol,” Room told The Local.

But, he added, certain other countries that had been studied using the same methodology had been shown to have greater problems. But this does not let Sweden of the hook, Room said, as the studies had mainly been carried out in countries with problems with alcohol.

“Sweden comes out better than countries such as England or Scotland, and you could interpret this as indicating that Sweden’s tough alcohol policies work. But fundamentally, Sweden’s policies on alcohol are looser than they used to be,” he said.