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Unintended Consequences - The Impact of a Minimum Price on Alcohol

Graham Watson

10th June 2022

Has a minimum price on alcohol caused some lower-income consumers to cut back on food and heating?

An example of an unintended consequence? Research from the University of Sheffield, the University of Newcastle in Australia and Figure 8 Consultancy Services reported here suggests that for "hard to reach", problem drinkers the higher price of alcohol hasn't deterred them from drinking but has seen them cut back on food and heating.

But surely the extent to which this is an economic bad has to be offset against any potential benefits that might have accrued to other groups - if there are any. Overall, the data suggests that alcohol sales have fallen, and if true, this is likely to benefit healthcare outcomes.

Graham Watson

Graham Watson has taught Economics for over twenty years. He contributes to tutor2u, reads voraciously and is interested in all aspects of Teaching and Learning.

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