Comparing alcohol affordability in 65 cities worldwide


Ming-yue Kan MPhil, Honorary Research Fellow, Maggie Lau PhD, Assistant Professor. Correspondence to Mr Ming-yue Kan, Centre for Greater China Studies, The Hong Kong Institute of Education, Tai Po, Hong Kong, China. Tel: 852 2135 7025; Fax: 852 2135 7147; E-mail:


Introduction and Aims

To develop a measure of alcohol affordability (AA) and compare the AA of 65 cities worldwide.

Design and Methods

In this paper, AA is defined as the proportion of median daily income needed to buy a certain quantity of certain alcoholic beverages. The income data and the price of alcoholic beverages were drawn from the Union Bank of Switzerland survey and the Economist Intelligence Unit respectively.


A large majority of cities (87.7%, n= 57) had a high level of AA. The top 20 ranking was occupied by European and American cities with Tokyo in the Western Pacific region being the exception. All cities belonging to high-income countries had high levels of AA. However, two cities with low-level AA came from low-middle-income countries instead of low-income countries.

Discussion and Conclusions

The findings have shown that alcohol consumption is highly affordable in many cities. If price policy is being considered as policy instrument of alcohol control, it is in urgent need of price adjustments. More specifically, the new emerging economies play a significant role in the world alcohol control movement because of their bright economic performance with huge population size. Further studies on AA, especially periodical monitoring and its impacts on alcohol consumption and alcohol related health problems, should be conducted so as to facilitate the formulation and evaluation price measure of alcohol control.