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The complex attitudes to alcohol taxation

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Alcoholic beverages are taxed at very different rates across the EU, which implies extensive cross-border shopping. Therefore, there is an ongoing debate about harmonization of alcohol taxes among countries. Sweden, with a tradition of high alcohol taxes due to public health arguments, has the highest excise duties on spirits in the EU. But, because of this, the occurrence and possible problems caused by cross-border shopping are also extensive. Using a questionnaire survey I analyse the Swedes’ attitudes to alcohol taxation and find that these two sides of the coin are important determinants. Many respondents want to decrease the alcohol tax, while some even want to increase it. Those most positive to alcohol taxation are those who regard increased alcohol consumption as a worrying problem and those living in areas where many adults are treated for alcohol-related diseases. However, the ordered-probit analysis also shows that those who support the EU membership are more supportive of reduced taxation to harmonize the Swedish tax with those in other EU countries. Those who live in regions where privately imported alcohol is substantial are also more reluctant to alcohol taxation.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Economics,University of Gothenburg, Box 640SE-405 30 Gothenburg, Sweden

Publication date: 2011-09-01

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