There is evidence that the adverse consequences of alcohol impose a substantial economic burden on societies worldwide. Given the lack of generalizability of study results across different settings, many attempts have been made to estimate the economic costs of alcohol for various settings; however, these have mostly been confined to industrialized countries. To our knowledge, there are a very limited number of well-designed studies which estimate the economic costs of alcohol consumption in developing countries, including Thailand. Therefore, this study aims to estimate these economic costs, in Thailand, 2006.
This is a prevalence-based, cost-of-illness study. The estimated costs in this study included both direct and indirect costs. Direct costs included health care costs, costs of law enforcement, and costs of property damage due to road-traffic accidents. Indirect costs included costs of productivity loss due to premature mortality, and costs of reduced productivity due to absenteeism and presenteeism (reduced on-the-job productivity).
The total economic cost of alcohol consumption in Thailand in 2006 was estimated at 156,105.4 million baht (9,627 million US$ PPP) or about 1.99% of the total Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Indirect costs outweigh direct costs, representing 96% of the total cost. The largest cost attributable to alcohol consumption is that of productivity loss due to premature mortality (104,128 million baht/6,422 million US$ PPP), followed by cost of productivity loss due to reduced productivity (45,464.6 million baht/2,804 million US$ PPP), health care cost (5,491.2 million baht/339 million US$ PPP), cost of property damage as a result of road traffic accidents (779.4 million baht/48 million US$ PPP), and cost of law enforcement (242.4 million baht/15 million US$ PPP), respectively. The results from the sensitivity analysis revealed that the cost ranges from 115,160.4 million baht to 214,053.0 million baht (7,102.1 - 13,201 million US$ PPP) depending on the methods and assumptions employed.
Alcohol imposes a substantial economic burden on Thai society, and according to these findings, the Thai government needs to pay significantly more attention to implementing more effective alcohol policies/interventions in order to reduce the negative consequences associated with alcohol.