BEER CONSUMPTION & TAXES
Beer Consumption in the United States: Adolescents & General
- Between 2000 and 2001, more than 62 percent of 12th grade students
reported using beer on an annual basis. During the same time period, more than 40 percent
of 12th grade students reported using beer monthly.1
- Nearly 25 percent of 12th grade students reported getting "very
high" or "bombed" when using beer.1
- Nearly 38 percent of junior high school students, and nearly 73
percent of senior high school students, reported that beer is "fairly easy" or
"very easy" to get.1
- Beer accounts for 67 percent of the alcohol consumption reported in
the United States.2
- Beer consumed by the
highest 10 percentile of drinkers by volume represents 42 percent of the reported alcohol consumed in the United States.2
- Beer accounts for over four fifths (81 percent) of all the alcohol
that is reported drunk in hazardous amounts in the United States.2
- In the United States, beer is disproportionately consumed in
hazardous amounts (i.e., five or more drinks per occasion) relative to wine and spirits.2
Public Opinion, Public Costs
- Nearly 82 percent of adults favor an increase of five cents per drink
in the tax on beer, wine, or liquor to pay for programs to prevent minors from drinking
and to increase alcohol treatment programs.3
- Alcohol excise tax rates have rarely been increased to compensate for
the effects of inflation. As a result, "real" tax rates have declined over most
of the postwar period. This erosion of real tax rates has contributed to overall declines
in real beverage prices over time.4
- In 1998, the estimated economic cost of alcohol abuse in the United
States exceeded $184 billion. This cost is equivalent to roughly $683 for every man, woman
and child living in the United States.4
- The cost to Americans of underage
drinking totals nearly $53 billion, equivalent to $200 for every man, women and child in
the United States.5
- Each year, the federal government spends between $900 million and $1
billion on alcohol prevention services for people of all ages, less than 2 percent of the
annual cost of alcohol use by youth alone.5
- According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, federal
excise tax collections for alcoholic beverages totaled more than $8 billion in 2000. Put
into perspective, this amounts to just over 4 percent of the $184 billion in
alcohol-related costs experienced by the American public.
Alcohol-Related Public Health Issues
- On January 1, 1991, the federal excise tax on beer increased for the
first time since 1951. Research shows that the rate of sexually transmitted diseases
(STDs) fell sharply from its 1988-90 levels in 1991 and 1992. Nationwide, gonorrhea rates
declined nearly 30 percent between 1990 and 1992. Syphilis rates fell nearly 40 percent
during the same time period.6
- According to researchers at the Centers for Disease Control, a beer
tax increase of 20 cents per six-pack would reduce gonorrhea rates by 8.9 percent and
syphilis rates by 32.7 percent.6
- The estimated annual cost of alcohol-related STDs in the United
States is $556 million.6
- Increases in the state excise tax on beer decrease the probability of
overall violence toward children. Specifically, a 10 percent increase in the excise tax on
beer will reduce the probability of severe violence by 2.3 percent, the probability of
overall violence by 1.2 percent, and unconditional overall violence (the sum of
participation and frequency) by about 2.1 percent.7
- Higher beer taxes are associated with lower rates of traffic
fatalities. For every 1 percent increase in the price of beer, the traffic fatality rate
declines by 0.9 percent.8
- Increasing the Federal excise tax on beer in 1988 to the
inflation-adjusted equivalent of its value in 1975 would have saved between 3,330 and
3,700 lives annually.8
- A 10 percent increase in the price of alcoholic beverages would
decrease the number of binge-drinking episodes per month by approximately 8 percent.9
1. Parents Resource Institute for Drug Education
(PRIDE). (2001). Pride questionnaire report. 2000-01 national summary: Grades 6 through
12. Bowling Green, KY: author.
2. Rogers, J. D., & Greenfield, T. K. (1999). Beer drinking accounts for most
hazardous alcohol consumption reported in the United States. Journal of Studies on
3. Harwood, E. M., Wagenaar, A. C., & Zander, K. M. (1998). Youth access to alcohol
survey: Summary report. Princeton, NJ: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. (http://www.rwjf.org/app/rw_publications_and_links/publicationsPdfs/Youth_Access_to_Alcohol_Survey.pdf).
4. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2000). 10th Special Report to
the U.S. Congress on Alcohol and Health. Chapter 6. NIH Publication No. 00-1583.
Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
5. Levy, D. T., Miller, T. R., & Cox, K. C. (1999). Costs of Underage Drinking.
Prepared by the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation in support of the Office of
Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Enforcing the Underage Drinking Laws Program.
6. Chesson, H., Harrison, P., & Kassler, W. J. (2000). Sex under the influence: The
effect of alcohol policy on sexually transmitted disease rates in the United States.
Journal of Law and Economics, Vol. XLIII, p. 215-238.
7. Markowitz, S., & Grossman, M. (1998). Alcohol regulation and domestic violence
towards children. Contemporary Economic Policy, 16(3):309-320.
8. Ruhm, C. J. (1996). Alcohol policies and highway vehicle fatalities. Journal of
Health Economics, 15(4):435-454.
9. Sloan, F. A., Reilly, B.A., & Schenzler, C. (1995). Effects of tort liability
and insurance on heavy drinking and drinking and driving. Journal of Law and