An international analysis of the price and affordability of beer

PLoS One. 2018 Dec 17;13(12):e0208831. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0208831. eCollection 2018.


Aims: To apply methods for measuring the affordability of beer in a large cross section of countries, and to investigate trends in affordability of beer over time.

Methods: We use the Relative Income Price (RIP), which uses per capita GDP, to measure the affordability of beer in up to 92 countries from 1990 to 2016 (69 countries were included in 1990, however the survey has since grown to include 92 countries). In addition to affordability, we also investigate trends in the price of beer.

Results: While beer is, on average, similarly priced in high-income (HICs) and low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), it is significantly more affordable in HICs. There is significant variation in both price and affordability in HICs and in LMICs. Beer has become cheaper in real terms in 49% (18/37) of HICs and 43% (20/46) of LMICs. Beer became more affordable in most HICs (RIP: 30/37 or 81%) and LMICs (RIP: 42/44 or 95%).

Conclusions: The increased affordability over time of beer in most countries raises concerns about public health. Governments need to increase taxes on beer so that it becomes less affordable over time, in an effort to improve public health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Beer / economics*
  • Commerce / economics*
  • Costs and Cost Analysis / trends*
  • Humans
  • Income
  • Public Health
  • Taxes

Grant support

The World Health Organization South Africa country office funded this research. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. American Cancer Society Inc. purchased access to the EIU price data utilized in the project.