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Bridging the world: Alcohol Policy in Transition and Diverging Alcohol Patterns in Sweden
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology. (Nordic Tax Study)
2010 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The present dissertation aims at analysing the effects of recent alcohol policy changes. The traditional strict policy in Sweden had focused on high pricing and limited availability to control levels of alcohol consumed and thus alcohol-related harms. However, increased travellers’ allowances meant larger availability of cheaper alcohol when importing from Denmark and Germany, which are the countries from which Swedes obtain most of their private imports; the tax decrease in Denmark further decreased the price. As the economic literature links demand to price of a commodity and the early (smaller) quota changes had resulted in higher consumption in southern Sweden, it was expected that these latest changes would mean higher consumption and more alcohol-related problems in this area in particular. Some groups were additionally expected to be more affected than others.

The present compilation thesis comprises four related articles and an introductory chapter that ties them together. Article I focuses on private imports in relation to quota changes 2002 – 2004 and relate this to purchase at the alcohol monopoly stores. Self-reported consumption and alcohol-related problems are studied in Article II and IV. In Article III, register data on alcohol-related harms, i.e. hospitalizations and police-recorded crimes, are analysed.

The results of the dissertation were puzzling, since there was no large increase in consumption or alcohol-related problems in the south, but increases in the north during the period. However, private imports and cases of hospitalization due to alcohol poisoning were found to have increased in the south. Thus, the results imply that these policy changes had an effect on private imports, but that this effect was not large enough to increase total consumption as well. Additionally, increased alcohol poisoning cases implied that there had been an impact among high consumers. The increases found in consumption and problems in the north may instead have other explanations.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Acta Universitatis Stockholmiensis, 2010. , 57 p.
Series
Stockholm studies in sociology, ISSN 0491-0885 ; N.S., 42Dissertations at the Centre for Social Research on Alcohol and Drugs (SoRAD), 9
Keyword [en]
alcohol consumption, alcohol-related consequences, availability, price, EU, social change
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-38858ISBN: 978-91-86071-39-4 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-38858DiVA: diva2:317034
Public defence
2010-05-28, Nordenskiöldsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 12, Stockholm, 13:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 2: In press. Paper 2: Submitted. Paper 3: Submitted.

Available from: 2010-05-06 Created: 2010-05-01 Last updated: 2015-06-16Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Increasing traveller's allowances in Sweden - how did it affect travellers' imports and Systembolaget sales?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Increasing traveller's allowances in Sweden - how did it affect travellers' imports and Systembolaget sales?
2009 (English)In: Nordic Studies on Alcohol and Drugs (English Edition), ISSN 1455-0725, Vol. 26, no 2, 165-176 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Aim

The aim of this study is to illuminate: 1. If the increases in travellers´ allowances in 2002, 2003 and 2004 have been associated with increasing travellers’ imports in Sweden? 2. How the (conceivable) effect was distributed during the following year? 3. If there were regional and beverage-specific variations in these effects? 4. How the patterns of change correspond to changes in sales at Systembolaget?

Data and Method

Data were obtained from a monthly survey and aggregated into annual and quarterly estimates of beverage-specific amounts of imported alcohol per adult for southern, mid- and northern Sweden as well as for the whole of Sweden. In the analysis subsequent quarters are compared after each quota change with the same quarters the previous year as well as with corresponding changes in sales at Systembolaget.

Results

The increase of spirits allowances in 2002 was not followed by a significant increase in any travellers’ imports. The more substantial increases for all beverages in 2003 and particularly 2004 were followed by significant increases in the whole of Sweden and particularly in the Southern of Sweden. The quarterly changes, however, showed signs of a declining “charm of novelty” effect. Systembolaget sales only partly developed in the opposite direction of imports, suggesting that substitution did not always occur.

Conclusions

Travellers’ imports increase with more liberal allowances but the magnitude of the effect depended on several factors, e.g., the proportion of the change and region in terms of distance to the Danish and German borders. Other factors seem to be changes of alcohol taxes in neighbouring countries, domestic availability and travelling habits. The declining “charm of novelty” effect suggest that the longer term implications of repealing these quotas may be less significant than was expected in the earlier public discussions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Helsinki, Finland: Nordic Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), 2009
Keyword
travellers’ allowances, alcohol, price, import quotas, Systembolaget, Sweden
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-32152 (URN)
Projects
Gränslösheten och den nordiska alkoholpolitiken. Nordic Alcohol Policies and the Challenges of Borderlessness. (GRAN)Effects of major changes in alcohol availability (Nordic Tax study)
Available from: 2009-12-04 Created: 2009-12-04 Last updated: 2010-05-03Bibliographically approved
2. Alcohol consumption in southern Sweden after major decreases in Danish spirits tax and increases in Swedish traveller's quotas
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Alcohol consumption in southern Sweden after major decreases in Danish spirits tax and increases in Swedish traveller's quotas
2010 (English)In: European Addiction Research, ISSN 1022-6877, E-ISSN 1421-9891, Vol. 16, no 4, 152-161 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background. In 2003, Denmark lowered its tax on spirits, and in 2004, Sweden increased its traveller import quotas. Aim. The aim was to determine whether these two changes increased self-reported alcohol consumption in southern Sweden, which is located near to Denmark. Method. Data were collected through telephone interviews with the general population between 2003 and 2006. People aged 16-80 years were interviewed. Some lived in southern Sweden, others in the northern region, which was assumed to be unaffected by the policy changes and thus used as a control site. Analyses were performed for the total population as well as by sex, age, socio-economic group and by consumption pattern. Results. The expected results were not found; alcohol consumption in southern Sweden had not changed. The few statistically significant changes found in southern Sweden indicated decreases. In the north, however, consumption seemed to have increased. Conclusion. In addition to the two policy changes mentioned above, other changes seem to have affected alcohol consumption in Sweden. It is possible, however, that the policy changes have affected population groups not reached by surveys, and thus other types of data need to be analysed before drawing any far-reaching conclusions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Basel: S. Karger AG, 2010
Keyword
alcohol consumption, tax decrease, increased private import quotas
National Category
Social Sciences
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-38823 (URN)10.1159/000314358 (DOI)000278387100006 ()
Projects
Nordic Tax Study
Available from: 2010-04-29 Created: 2010-04-29 Last updated: 2017-12-12Bibliographically approved
3. Changes in alcohol-related harm in Sweden after increasing alcohol import quotas and a Danish tax decrease-an interrupted time-series analysis for 2000-2007
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Changes in alcohol-related harm in Sweden after increasing alcohol import quotas and a Danish tax decrease-an interrupted time-series analysis for 2000-2007
2011 (English)In: International Journal of Epidemiology, ISSN 0300-5771, E-ISSN 1464-3685, Vol. 40, no 2, 432-440 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background Denmark decreased its tax on spirits by 45% on 1 October 2003. Shortly thereafter, on 1 January 2004, Sweden increased its import quotas of privately imported alcohol, allowing travellers to bring in much larger amounts of alcohol from other European Union countries. Although these changes were assumed to increase alcohol-related harm in Sweden, particularly among people living close to Denmark, analyses based on survey data collected before and after these changes have not supported this assumption. The present article tests whether alcohol-related harm in southern Sweden was affected by these changes by analysing other indicators of alcohol-related harm, e. g. harm recorded in different kinds of registers. Methods Interrupted time-series analysis was performed with monthly data on cases of hospitalization due to acute alcohol poisoning, number of reported violent assaults and drunk driving for the years 2000-07 in southern Sweden using the northern parts of Sweden as a control and additionally controlling for two earlier major changes in quotas. Results The findings were not consistent with respect to whether alcohol-related harm increased in southern Sweden after the decrease in Danish spirits tax and the increase in Swedish alcohol import quotas. On the one hand, an increase in acute alcohol poisonings was found, particularly in the 50-69 years age group, on the other hand, no increase was found in violent assaults and drunk driving. Conclusions The present results raise important questions about the association between changes in availability and alcohol-related harms. More research using other methodological approaches and data is needed to obtain a comprehensive picture of what actually happened in southern Sweden.

Keyword
Alcohol-related harm, alcohol poisoning, violent assaults, drunk driving, tax change, private import quotas of alcohol
National Category
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-69072 (URN)10.1093/ije/dyq153 (DOI)000289165800022 ()
Note
authorCount :2Available from: 2012-01-10 Created: 2012-01-10 Last updated: 2017-12-08Bibliographically approved
4. Changes in alcohol availability, price and alcohol-related problems and the collectivity of drinking cultures: What happened in southern and northern Sweden?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Changes in alcohol availability, price and alcohol-related problems and the collectivity of drinking cultures: What happened in southern and northern Sweden?
2010 (English)In: Alcohol and Alcoholism, ISSN 0735-0414, E-ISSN 1464-3502, Vol. 45, no 5, 456-467 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Aims. There were two aims with this paper; first to study whether alcohol-related self-reported problems behaved in the same way as alcohol consumption in southern Sweden -- assumed to be affected by a decrease in Danish spirits tax and increased Swedish travellers’ import quotas. The second aim was to study whether the results in southern and northern Sweden followed the predictions of Skog’s theory of collectivity of drinking cultures. Methods. Analysis was carried out on a sample from the general Swedish population for southern and northern Sweden separately. Two indexes for alcohol-related problems were computed and analysed by sex, age, income and alcohol consumption level. Results. Although there were no large changes in the number of persons reporting alcohol-related problems, the general trend in data for various sub-populations was a decrease in the southern site and an increase in the northern site. The increase among men noted in alcohol consumption in the northern site was found among alcohol-related problems as well. However, various population subgroups changed in different directions and did not move in concert over the population distribution. Conclusions. Analyses conformed that alcohol-related problems according to the two indexes used were behaving similarly to alcohol consumption, but less divergent. Skog’s theory could not be confirmed, alcohol-related problems did not change collectively within the population.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Oxford university press, 2010
Keyword
alcohol availability, travellers' import quotas, price, spirits tax, collectivity of drinking
National Category
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-38828 (URN)10.1093/alcalc/agq046 (DOI)000281528300012 ()
Projects
Nordic Tax Study
Available from: 2010-04-29 Created: 2010-04-29 Last updated: 2017-12-12Bibliographically approved

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