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Aim: To examine associations between individual-, household- and neighbourhood-level socioeconomic position (SEP) and harmful alcohol consumption.

Method: Adults aged 18–76 residing in 50 neighbourhoods in Melbourne completed a postal questionnaire (n= 2349, 58.7% response rate). Alcohol-related behaviours were classified by risk of short- and long-term harm. Individual-, household- and neighbourhood-level SEP were ascertained by education, household income and proportion of low-income households, respectively. The association were examined by multi-level logistic regression.

Results: Participants lower education or household income were less likely to consume alcohol frequently compared to their more-advantaged counterparts. Lower-educated men were more likely to be at risk of short-term harm [OR 1.75 (1.23 – 2.48)]. Low-income women were less likely to be at risk of short-term harm [OR 0.44 (0.23 – 0.81)]. Neighbourhood disadvantage was not associated with alcohol consumption.

Conclusion: Men and women from socioeconomically advantaged backgrounds were more frequent consumers of alcohol, whereas their disadvantaged counterparts drank less frequently but in greater quantities on each drinking occasion

Implications: Socioeconomic disadvantage at the individual and household levels may be an important determinant of alcohol consumption among Australian adults.


Institute for Health and Ageing

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