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PLoS One. 2019 Feb 13;14(2):e0211357. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0211357. eCollection 2019.

The costs of negative affect attributable to alcohol consumption in later life: A within-between random longitudinal econometric model using UK Biobank.

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Department of Psychiatry, Warneford Hospital, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom.
Crime and Security Research Institute, Friary House, Greyfriars Road, Cardiff, United Kingdom.
Violence Research Group, School of Dentistry, Cardiff University, Cardiff, United Kingdom.
Centre for the Development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement, School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University, Cardiff, United Kingdom.



Research demonstrates a negative relationship between alcohol use and affect, but the value of deprecation is unknown and thus cannot be included in estimates of the cost of alcohol to society. This paper aims to examine this relationship and develop econometric techniques to value the loss in affect attributable to alcohol consumption.


Cross-sectional (n = 129,437) and longitudinal (n = 11,352) analyses of alcohol consumers in UK Biobank data were undertaken, with depression and neuroticism as proxies of negative affect. The cross-sectional relationship between household income, negative affect and alcohol consumption were analysed using regression models, controlling for confounding variables, and using within-between random models that are robust to unobserved heterogeneity. The differential in household income required to offset alcohol's detriment to affect was derived.


A consistent relationship between depression and alcohol consumption (β = 0.001, z = 7.64) and neuroticism and alcohol consumption (β = 0.001, z = 9.24) was observed in cross-sectional analyses, replicated in within-between models (depression β = 0.001, z = 2.32; neuroticism β = 0.001, z = 2.33). Significant associations were found between household income and depression (cross sectional β = -0.157, z = -23.86, within-between β = -0.146, z = -9.51) and household income and neuroticism (cross sectional β = -0.166, z = -32.02, within-between β = -0.158, z = -7.44). The value of reducing alcohol consumption by one gram/day was pooled and estimated to be £209.06 (95% CI £171.84 to £246.27).


There was a robust relationship between alcohol consumption and negative affect. Econometric methods can value the intangible effects of alcohol use and may, therefore, facilitate the fiscal determination of benefit.

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