The Commission on the Future of Health Care in Canada asked whether Medicare is sustainable in its present form. Well, Medicare is not sustainable for at least six reasons. Given a long list of factors, such as Canada's changing dependency ratio, the phenomenon of diminishing returns from increased taxation, competing provincial expenditure needs, low labour and technological productivity in government-funded healthcare, the expectations held by baby boomers, and the evolving value sets of Canadians--Medicare will impoverish Canada within the next couple of decades if not seriously recast. As distasteful as parallel private-pay, private-choice healthcare may be to some policy makers and providers who grew up in the 1960s, the reality of the 2020s will dictate its necessity as a pragmatic solution to a systemic problem.
This Danish law authorizes persons of the same sex to register their partnership and be treated legally in most cases as persons in heterosexual partnerships are treated, notably with respect to marriage, divorce, succession, and social and tax laws. Nonetheless, persons in such partnerships are not treated the same as heterosexuals with respect to adoption of children and the right to obtain a religious celebration of their partnership.
Fluctuations in alcohol consumption in Greenland have been extreme since alcohol became available to the Greenland Inuit in the 1950s, increasing from low levels in the 1950s to very high levels in the 1980s - about twice as high as alcohol consumption in Denmark. Since then, consumption has declined, and current consumption is slightly below alcohol consumption in Denmark, while alcohol prices are far above Danish prices.
Description of historical trends and possible causal connections of alcohol prices, alcohol consumption and alcohol-related mortality in Greenland 1951-2010 as a background for the evaluation of the impact of various types of policy.
Time series for Greenland 1951-2010 for alcohol prices, consumption and mortality are compiled, and variation and correlations are discussed in relation to various policies aimed at limiting alcohol consumption. Corresponding time series for Denmark 1906-2010 are presented for comparison.
The trends in alcohol prices and consumption followed each other rather closely until the 1990s in Greenland and the 1980s in Denmark. At this time, consumption stabilised while prices decreased further, but the effect of prices upon consumption is strong, also in recent years. A trend in Greenlandic mortality similar to consumption is discernible, but not significant. Among alcohol-related deaths cirrhosis of the liver is less prevalent whilst accidents are more prevalent than in Denmark.
The effect of alcohol excise taxes and rationing upon consumption is evident. The stabilisation and subsequent decline in consumption since the mid-1990s, while alcohol prices decreased persistently, does not preclude continued effects of prices. On the contrary, price effects have been neutralised by other stronger causes. Whether these are government anti-alcohol campaigns or a cultural change is not clear.
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Alcohol beverage prices or taxes have been shown to be related to alcohol sales and use and related problems. What is not clear are the mechanisms underlying these relationships.
This study examines the relationship between alcohol outlet density under conditions of the partial privatization of off-premise consumption in British Columbia (BC) occurring over the past decade. Two hypotheses are tested. First, reflecting basic supply-demand principles, greater geographic densities of alcohol outlets will be directly related to reductions in beverage prices in response to greater competition. Second, reflecting the effects of niche marketing and resulting market stratification, increased densities of private liquor stores will be especially related to reductions in beverage prices within this outlet category. Data were collected from: (i) a survey of BC private store prices and practices, (ii) alcohol outlet location information, and (iii) data on demographic characteristics. Multilevel models examine the relationships between prices at individual private liquor stores and the densities of government liquor stores, private liquor stores, bars, and restaurants, controlling for background demographics and geographic unit level effects. Spatial dependencies were also examined.
Increased densities of private liquor stores were associated with lower mean prices of beer and all alcohol aggregated across brands at the store level. There appeared to be no outlet level effect on discounting patterns, however, with the mean price differences apparently reflecting differences in the quality of brands carried rather than unequal prices for any given brand.
Increased densities of private off-sale alcohol outlets appear to result in lower prices charged at said establishments independently of other types of alcohol outlets suggesting that they represent an emerging marketing niche in the context of off-sale outlet privatization.
BACKGROUND: Although the published literature on alcohol beverage taxes, prices, sales, and related problems treats alcoholic beverages as a simple good, alcohol is a complex good composed of different beverage types (i.e., beer, wine, and spirits) and quality brands (e.g., high-, medium-, and low-quality beers). As a complex good, consumers may make substitutions between purchases of different beverage types and brands in response to price increases. For this reason, the availability of a broad range of beverage prices provides opportunities for consumers to mitigate the effects of average price increases through quality substitutions; a change in beverage choice in response to price increases to maintain consumption. METHODS: Using Swedish price and sales data provided by Systembolaget for the years 1984 through 1994, this study assessed the relationships between alcohol beverage prices, beverage quality, and alcohol sales. The study examined price effects on alcohol consumption using seemingly unrelated regression equations to model the impacts of price increases within 9 empirically defined quality classes across beverage types. The models enabled statistical assessments of both own-price and cross-price effects between types and classes. RESULTS: The results of these analyses showed that consumers respond to price increases by altering their total consumption and by varying their brand choices. Significant reductions in sales were observed in response to price increases, but these effects were mitigated by significant substitutions between quality classes. CONCLUSIONS: The findings suggest that the net impacts of purposeful price policy to reduce consumption will depend on how such policies affect the range of prices across beverage brands.
Evidence for alcohol-price policy relies heavily on aggregate econometric studies for the United States. Prior reviews of prices and alcohol-related harms include only a few studies based on natural experiments. This study provides a comprehensive review of natural experiments for a wide variety of harms from studies published during 2003 to 2015. We examine policy changes that importantly affected alcohol taxes and prices, and related changes in availability.
Forty-five studies met inclusion criteria, covering nine countries: Australia, Denmark, Finland, Hong Kong, Iceland, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, and United States. Some studies cover more than one harm or country, and there are 69 outcomes for review. Summaries are provided for five outcome groups: alcohol-related mortality and hospitalizations; assaults and other crime; drink-driving; intoxication; and survey-indexes for dependency. The review notes both positive/mixed results and negative/null results.
Findings indicate that changes in taxes and prices have selective effects on harms. Mortality outcomes are positive for liver disease and older persons, especially in Finland and Russia. Mostly null results for assaults and drink-driving are found for five countries. Intoxication results for Nordic countries are mixed for selective subpopulations. Results for survey indexes are mixed, with no strong pattern of outcomes within or across countries.
Prior reviews stress taxes as a comprehensive and cost-effective intervention for addressing alcohol-related harms. A review of natural experiments indicates the confidence placed on this measure is too high, and natural experiments in alcohol policy had selective effects on various subpopulations.