New Zealand: Staggering Economic Costs of Alcohol Harm
In Zealand, the economy is losing ca. $1.65bn per year due to alcohol’s adverse impact on employees’ productivity.
A new study conducted by University of Otago researchers found that alcohol use created the cost of $1098 for every Kiwi employee over a year. This amounts to almost five days of sick leave per worker. Men under 25 and those with stressful jobs showed the biggest alcohol problems.
Staggering economic costs of alcohol
The total costs of $1.65bn per year include the costs of days off work, lost productive time at work and time employers wasted dealing with alcohol-related issues such as legal issues and cleaning up damage. Just 20% of the cost was from those who stay home sick, or absenteeism. It is so-called presenteeism from employees who come to work impaired by their alcohol use that is far more costly, according to the study.
Only 6% of workers admitted taking time off due to their alcohol use, while 10% admitted to losing productive time at work due to the effects of alcohol use. Accumulated at population level, the number of hours and days add to staggering levels of economic harm from alcohol.
Solutions are available
The researchers suggest employers develop workplace policies that promote healthy lifestyle and wellbeing. But population level measures have been highlighted as critical tools.
Dr Nicki Jackson, executive director of Alcohol Healthwatch, calls for the implementation of better alcohol policy regulation such as banning alcohol advertising, raising prices and reducing availability. Those moves would be far more effective, she said.
These hidden costs have come into the open, they’ve been exposed and they’re enormous,” Dr Jackson said per NZ Herals.
This is about mental health and wellbeing for the [alcohol user] and for others. This is exactly what alcohol harm looks like in society.”