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J Epidemiol Community Health. 2017 Dec;71(12):1168-1176. doi: 10.1136/jech-2017-209636. Epub 2017 Oct 23.

Influence of affordability of alcohol on educational disparities in alcohol-related mortality in Finland and Sweden: a time series analysis.

Author information

Department of Public Health, Centre of Maritime Health and Society, University of Southern Denmark, Esbjerg, Denmark.
Department of Social Research, Population Research Unit, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.
Centre for Health Equity Studies, Stockholm University and Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.
The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.



Prices of alcohol and income tend to influence how much people buy and consume alcohol. Price and income may be combined into one measure, affordability of alcohol. Research on the association between affordability of alcohol and alcohol-related harm is scarce. Furthermore, no research exists on how this association varies across different subpopulations. We estimated the effects of affordability of alcohol on alcohol-related mortality according to gender and education in Finland and Sweden.


Vector-autoregressive time series modelling was applied to the quarter-annual aggregations of alcohol-related deaths and affordability of alcohol in Finland in 1988-2007 and in Sweden in 1991-2008. Alcohol-related mortality was defined using information on both underlying and contributory causes of death. We calculated affordability of alcohol index using information on personal taxable income and prices of various types of alcohol.


Among Finnish men with secondary education, an increase of 1% in the affordability of total alcohol was associated with an increase of 0.028% (95% CI 0.004 to 0.053) in alcohol-related mortality. Similar associations were also found for affordability for various types of alcohol and for beer only in the lowest education group. We found few other significant positive associations for other subpopulations in Finland or Sweden. However, reverse associations were found among secondary-educated Swedish women.


Overall, the associations between affordability of alcohol and alcohol-related mortality were relatively weak. Increased affordability of total alcoholic beverages was associated with higher rates of alcohol-related mortality only among Finnish men with secondary education.


alcohol; education; mortality; public health policy; time series

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Conflict of interest statement

Competing interests: All authors have completed the ICMJE uniform disclosure form at (available on request from the corresponding author) and declare: no support from any organisation for the submitted work; no financial relationships with any organisations that might have an interest in the submitted work in the previous three years; no other relationships or activities that could appear to have influenced the submitted work.

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