On SAGE Insight: Implication of alcohol consumption on aggregate wellbeing

From Perspectives in Public Health

The recognition that alcohol consumption has implications that go beyond the individual to adversely affect his or her families and society is gaining momentum. For example in 2006, 83,180 individuals (46,825 from acute and 36,355 from chronic conditions) died of alcohol-related causes in the United States. The implications of drinking alcohol on the wider community are evident in the form of socially undesirable behaviors such as drink-driving family violence, child abuse and drinking during pregnancy. This study attempts to investigate the impact of various levels of alcohol consumption on aggregate happiness. The findings indicate that advocating moderation in drinking alcohol was good for individuals and their societies. The high-risk drinkers were a smaller minority, yet their behavior adversely affected the aggregate wellbeing of all.


Aims: The effects of drinking alcohol extend beyond the individuals concerned to the wider community. While there is recognition of such a global implication, currently no study has quantified the impact of alcohol consumption on aggregate wellbeing. This study aims to address this gap and attempts to investigate the impact of various levels of alcohol consumption on aggregate happiness.

Methods: The study was carried out on a random selection of participants (n = 1,817) drawn from the 3Di consumer panel, comprising over 170,000 New Zealanders aged 18 and above. Using a subjective happiness scale (SHS) in conjunction with the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT), investigation was carried out to find whether drinking behaviour affected aggregate happiness.

Results: SHS and AUDIT scores were negatively correlated and the strength of the correlation increased with the intensity of problematic drinking. Regression analysis showed that the beta coefficient was positive for the low-risk (.074) and negative for the high-risk (−.081) category, suggesting approaches to intervene with the growing problem of alcohol consumption in modern societies.

Conclusion: Measurements of happiness can explain the global implication of alcohol in wellbeing terms. The findings of this study indicated that low-risk drinkers affected aggregate happiness positively, whereas high-risk drinkers affected aggregate happiness negatively. While the latter observation is not new, the former raises the need to promote moderation in drinking alcohol for the common good of everyone.

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Article details
Peer Review:
Mathew Parackal and Sherly Parackal
Implication of alcohol consumption on aggregate wellbeing\
Perspectives in Public Health 1757913916669538, first published on October 6, 2016 doi:10.1177/1757913916669538



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