University of Bath

The cost of binge drinking in the UK

An IPR Policy Brief about the economic and social effects of binge drinking.

Much is known about the effects and costs of sustained heavy drinking, such as the increased risk of chronic disease and injury to individuals, the damage to social relationships and the additional burden on public services (such as healthcare and policing). However, little is known about the economic and social effects of binge drinking. This brief, by Dr Jonathan James (University of Bath) and Professor Marco Francesconi (University of Essex) estimates the additional cost to the economy generated by binge drinking by examining its effects on Accident and Emergency (A&E) admissions, road accidents, arrests and the number of police officers on duty. This estimate is then used to assess the likely effectiveness of policies designed to discourage binge drinking and mitigate its effects and costs. The three potential policy interventions considered are minimum unit pricing, alcohol excise taxes and a higher minimum legal drinking age (MLDA).