Open Access Open Badges Research

Equalisation of alcohol participation among socioeconomic groups over time: an analysis based on the total differential approach and longitudinal data from Sweden

Jean-Baptiste Combes12*, Ulf-Göran Gerdtham345 and Johan Jarl34

Author Affiliations

1 Health Economics Research Unit (HERU), University of Aberdeen, Polwarth Building, Foresterhill, Aberdeen AB25 2ZD, UK

2 National School for Statistics and Information Analysis (ENSAI), Campus de Ker-Lann, Rue Blaise Pascal, BP 37203, 35172 Bruz Cedex, France

3 Health Economics & Management, Institute of Economic Research, Lund University, P.O. Box 117, SE-221 00 Lund, Sweden

4 Center for Primary Health Care Research, Malmö University Hospital, Lund University/Region Skåne, SE-205 02 Malmö, Sweden

5 Economics Department, Lund University, P.O. Box 117, SE-221 00 Lund, Sweden

For all author emails, please log on.

International Journal for Equity in Health 2011, 10:10  doi:10.1186/1475-9276-10-10

Published: 10 February 2011



Health inequality and its social determinants are well-studied, but the determinants of inequality of alcohol consumption are less well-investigated.


The total differential approach of decomposition of changes in the concentration index of the probability of participation in alcohol consumption was applied to 8-year longitudinal data for Swedish women aged 28-76 in 1988/89.


Alcohol consumption showed a pro-rich inequality, with income being a strong contributor. Overall participation remained fairly constant, but the inequality decreased over time as abstinence became less common among the poor and more common among the rich. This was mainly due to changes in the relative weights of certain population groups, such as a decrease in the proportional size of the oldest cohorts.


Inequality in participation in alcohol consumption is pro-rich in Sweden. This inequality has tended to decrease over time, due to changes in population composition rather than to policy intervention.