Alcohol-Attributable Deaths Help Drive Growing Socioeconomic Inequalities In US Life Expectancy, 2000–18

Charlotte Probst, Miriam Könen, Jürgen Rehm, Nikkil Sudharsanan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Socioeconomic gaps in life expectancy have widened substantially in the United States since 2000. Yet the contribution of specific causes to these growing disparities remains unknown. We used death records from the National Vital Statistics System and population data from Current Population Surveys to quantify the contribution of alcohol-attributable causes of death to changes in US life expectancy between 2000 and 2018 by sex and socioeconomic status (as measured by educational attainment). During the study period, the gap in life expectancy between people with low (high school diploma or less) compared with high (college degree) levels of education increased by three years among men and five years among women. Between 2000 and 2010 declines in cardiovascular disease mortality among people with high education made major contributions to growing inequalities. In contrast, between 2010 and 2018 deaths from a cause with an alcohol-attributable fraction of 20 percent or more were a dominant driver of socioeconomic divergence. Increased efforts to implement cost-effective alcohol control policies will be essential for reducing health disparities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1160-1168
Number of pages9
JournalHealth Affairs
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2022


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