Cross-Sectional Surveys of Financial Harm Associated with Others’ Drinking in 15 Countries: Unequal Effects on Women?
- 2% of respondents in high-income countries reported financial harm due to others’ alcohol use.
- In contrast, 14% of respondents reported financial harm from others’ alcohol use in low- and middle-income countries.
- Financial harm from others’ alcohol use was notably high in Thailand, Sri Lanka and India.
- Financial harm from others’ alcohol use was significantly more common among women than men in nine countries.
- Among men and women, financial harm was significantly more prevalent in low- and middle- than in high-income countries.
Introduction and aims
That physical, emotional and social problems occur not only to alcohol users, but also to others they connect with, is increasingly acknowledged. Financial harms from others’ alcohol use have been seldom studied at the population level, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. Whether financial harm and costs from others’ alcohol use inequitably affect women is little known. The study’s aim is to compare estimates and correlates of alcohol’s financial harm to others than the alcohol user in 15 countries.
Methods and materials
Cross-sectional surveys of Alcohol’s Harm To Others (AHTO) were conducted in Australia, Brazil, Chile, Denmark, India, Ireland, Lao PDR, New Zealand, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, the US and Vietnam. Participants: 17,670 men and 20,947 women. Measurement: The prevalence of financial harm in the last year was assessed as financial trouble and/or less money available for household expenses because of someone else’s alcohol use. Analysis: Meta-analysis and country-level logistic regression of financial harm (vs. none), adjusted for gender, age, education, rurality and participant alcohol use.
Under 3.2 % of respondents in most high-income countries reported financial harm due to others’ alcohol use, whereas 12–22 % did in Thailand, Sri Lanka and India. Financial harm from others’ alcohol use was significantly more common among women than men in nine countries. Among men and women, financial harm was significantly more prevalent in low- and middle- than in high-income countries.
Reports of financial harm from others’ alcohol use are more common among women than among men, and in low- and middle-income than in high-income countries.
Alcohol-related spending is not limited to the purchase of alcohol. Valuable financial income can be spent replacing items broken during periods of intoxication, repaying debts or loans, as well as out-of-pocket medical costs for the alcohol user’s own – or their family members’ – injuries.
The study shows that women from nine countries – Australia, Sweden, the United States, New Zealand, Brazil, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and India – were at significantly greater risk than men of financial harm from someone else’s alcohol use habits.
Women [consume alcohol] less than men, and less problematically, but experience more harm from the people they are close to. We know that women experience more intimate partner violence than men, and this study shows how women are inequitably financially affected as well,” said Dr Anne-Marie Laslett, lead researcher of the study, as per, La Trobe University News.
The risk of suffering financial harm from a partner or family member’s alcohol use habits is higher for,
- women in lower and middle income countries;
- younger women in high income countries;
- women with limited access to education;
- women from rural areas and
- women who identified as moderate and risky alcohol users.
The global scale of this problem is greater in lower and middle income countries because families in these countries often have less disposable income and fewer social services available to provide support. They also show that these financial burdens are most commonly the outcome of a male partner’s alcohol use habits.
The findings suggest that a reduction in alcohol consumption could have a positive impact on household finances, which would particularly benefit women,” added Dr Anne-Marie Laslett, as per, La Trobe University News.