The contribution of alcohol to life expectancy differentials across countries and over time in Europe

Sergi Trias-Llimós, University of Groningen
Anton E. Kunst, University of Amsterdam
Fanny Janssen, Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI) and University of Groningen

Both alcohol-attributable mortality and life expectancies largely differ across European countries. While alcohol-attributable mortality tends to be higher in Eastern European countries than in Western Europe, life expectancies are lower. Similarly, alcohol-attributable mortality trends and life expectancy trends are diverse in Europe, and especially across Eastern European countries. We estimate the contribution of alcohol to life expectancy differentials between Eastern European countries and Western Europe since 1990. All-cause mortality (Human Mortality Database) and alcohol-attributable mortality data (GBD Study 2013) were retrieved by age and sex for 25 European countries, which were divided into Eastern or Western countries. Traditional life tables and life expectancy decomposition techniques were applied to assess the contribution of alcohol to life expectancy differentials between each Eastern European country and Western Europe. In 2010, alcohol was explaining around 1/4 of the differentials in life expectancy between Western Europe and Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, for both men and women. In other countries the contribution of alcohol was lower, but quite important among men in 2010 with around 1/5 in Hungary, Lithuania, Estonia and Poland. In most of the countries the relative contribution of alcohol seems not to have declined in the period 1990-2010, although a declining trend is observed after 2005. In conclusion, a relatively large share (above 20% in 5 countries for men and 3 countries for women in 2010) of the gap in mortality between Eastern and Western European countries seems to be explained by alcohol consumption. Therefore, we show that important life expectancy differentials could be narrowed be reducing alcohol-attributable mortality across Europe.

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Presented in Session 50: Disparities in mortality trends across developed countries