Excessive alcohol use is associated with non-communicable diseases and social problems, such as work absence, financial problems and family violence. Expenditure and expenditure shares on alcohol are valuable measures to monitor financial activities on this risk behaviour. The aim of this paper is to report trends in alcohol expenditure in Australia over the last two decades.
Data are from six waves of Australian Household Expenditure Surveys from 1984 to 2015–2016. We explored trends of alcohol expenditure among Australians and in different socio-demographic groups in the last 30 years. We further examined changes of expenditure on different on- and off-premises beverages over time.
Absolute alcohol expenditure has remained the same between the 1980s and 2016, after accounting for inflation. However, a declining trend in relative alcohol expenditure as a proportion of total household expenditure was found across nearly all demographic groups (e.g., sex, age, employment, household income), except for women aged 45–54, who showed an increasing trend of alcohol expenditure after 1998–1999.
Discussion and Conclusions
The current study shows declines in relative alcohol expenditure, which may reflect declines in alcohol’s relative importance within the elements of the person’s lifestyle they need to pay for and/or increased awareness of alcohol’s health and social harms. Further longitudinal analysis should explore additional predictors of household expenditure on alcohol. Results suggest that current bi-annual indexation increases in alcohol tax should account for increases in income to ensure the effectiveness of pricing. Moreover, attention is needed to address drinking among middle-aged females.