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One of the favourite pieces of misinformation put about by the anti-drink lobby is that, over time, alcohol has become “more affordable”. Well, yes it has, but only in terms of the number of minutes’ work needed to buy a pint. As living standards have progressively improved, in practice pretty much everything has become “more affordable”, and the only really honest way of tracking movements in the relative value of things over time is by comparing them with general price inflation.
Indeed, as explained here on the Straight Statistics blog, in fact “Alcohol has become more affordable, but more slowly than other items.” Using the NHS’s own figures:
As the NHS IC’s table makes clear, the price of alcohol has risen more swiftly than the retail price index since 1980. Setting both at 100 in 1980, the retail price index in 2010 was 334.5, while the alcohol price index was 411.2; so over this period alcohol prices have risen nearly 23 per cent faster than retail prices as a whole.
In comparison with the general level of prices, alcoholic drinks have actually become dearer, not cheaper. And the post also points out that there are significant problems in any case with the measure of income used as the base for the calculation of “affordability”.