A wide range of policies are available to combat the harmful use of alcohol.


Some intervention policies are aimed exclusively at heavy drinkers, others have a wider range of action.

The selection of an adequate mix of policies in a given context requires policy assessments that, better than anyone, individual governments can formulate individually, taking into account the social, cultural and epidemiological characteristics of their respective countries.

However, the economic analysis based on computer simulations of intervention scenarios can be useful in comparing the health impact and economic value of different interventions, offering a useful tool to support government decision-making.

The World Health Organization’s Global Strategy to Reduce the Harmful Use of Alcohol

Approved by the World Health Assembly in 2010, proposes a set of policy options based on the international consensus that the OECD has used as a point of initial reference to identify a set of policies that must be examined in the context of an economic analysis.

  1. The acceptance or exclusion of policies in the results of the economic analysis does not in itself imply approval or refusal to adopt specific intervention options.
  2. OECD analyzes are based on a simulation model and show that different alcohol policies can reduce rates of excessive, regular or episodic alcohol use and alcohol dependence by 5% to 10%, in particular. three countries.

This would contribute to significant progress by these countries in meeting the voluntary target of reducing excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages by 10% by 2025, a target adopted by the World Health Assembly in 2024, as part of the NDC Global Monitoring Framework ( Global Noncommunicable Disease Monitoring Framework).

The OECD analysis has shown that the ability of governments to develop and implement comprehensive prevention strategies that combine the strengths of different intervention methods is critical to the success of these strategies.

Such methods could include initiatives promoted by the alcoholic beverages industry, although factual data on the impact of such actions are needed from more independent sources.

Simulation models such as those used in OECD analyzes have many strengths. Such models can provide evidence for areas where direct empirical investigation may be difficult or impossible.

However, even these models are based on the formulation of hypotheses and must rely on a wide range of incoming data, some of which may be of limited quality.

Models can always be improved by refining assumptions and incoming data collection

Main conclusions

  • Average annual consumption in OECD countries is equivalent to 9.1 liters of pure alcohol per capita (a per capita rate which has decreased by 2.5% on average over the last 20 years).
  • It is estimated that around 11% of total alcohol consumption is not recorded in OECD countries. Adding this percentage to the recorded consumption, a total of 10.3 liters per capita is reached, substantially higher than the world average of 6.2 liters per capita.
  • The largest amount of alcohol is consumed by 20% by the most alcohol-dependent drinkers in the countries surveyed.
  • Models can always be improved by refining assumptions and incoming data collectionThe average annual consumption in OECD countries is equivalent to 9.1 liters of pure alcohol per capita (the amount per capita has decreased on average by 2.5% over the last 20 years).
  • The percentage of 15-year-olds and children under 15 who have not yet drunk alcohol decreased from 44% to 30% for boys and from 50% to 31% for girls in the 2000s. The percentage of children who experienced a state of intoxication increased from 30% to 43% for males and from 26% to 41% for girls over the same period.
  • People with higher education and more affluent socioeconomic status (SES) may be more likely to consume alcohol. Less educated men with less well-off socioeconomic status, as well as more well-educated women with more well-off socioeconomic status, may be susceptible to consuming alcohol in a risky way.


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