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This entry is our analysis of a study added to the Effectiveness Bank. The original study was not published by Findings; click Title to order a copy. Links to other documents. Hover over for notes. Click to highlight passage referred to. Unfold extra text Unfold supplementary text The Summary conveys the findings and views expressed in the study.

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Are alcohol excise taxes good for us? Short and long-term effects on mortality rates.

Cook P.J., Ostermann J., Sloan F.A.
Cambridge Massachusetts: National Bureau of Economic Research, 2005.

On the basis of US state-level data, concludes that higher alcohol taxes reduce the death rate by cutting consumption. Beneficial effects of moderate drinking in middle age are more than counter-balanced by adverse effects of heavier drinking and acute deaths in younger groups.

Summary Regression results from a 30-year panel of US state-level data indicate that changes in alcohol-excise taxes cause a reduction in drinking and lower all-cause mortality in the short run. But those results do not fully capture the long-term mortality effects of a permanent change in drinking levels. In particular, since moderate drinking has a protective effect against heart disease in middle age, it is possible that a reduction in per capita drinking will result in some people drinking "too little" and dying sooner than they otherwise would. To explore that possibility, we simulate the effect of a one per cent reduction in drinking on all-cause mortality for the age group 35–69, using several alternative assumptions about how the reduction is distributed across this population. We find that the long-term mortality effect of a one per cent reduction in drinking is essentially nil.

Last revised 13 January 2011

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