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Lives lost to alcohol: Does your occupation matter?

ONS examines the socio-economic and gender inequalities in alcohol-related deaths

The latest analysis of deaths data shows substantial socio-economic and gender inequality in alcohol-related deaths among working-age adults (16-64 years). Those in routine occupations tended to have higher death rates and lose more potential years of working life because of alcohol-related deaths than those in more advantaged socio-economic classes. On the whole, men were more likely to die from an alcohol-related cause than women.

In 2013 there were 8,416 alcohol-related deaths in the UK and 66% of these deaths were among males. For every 100,000 men in the population there were 19.1 deaths and this rate was more than double that of women, where there were 9.1 deaths for every 100,000 women.

For both sexes, the UK death rates were highest among those aged 60-64 years (45.3 deaths per 100,000 men and 22.4 per 100,000 women).

Alcohol death rate highest for people in routine occupations

Using the 2011 Census and focusing solely on 16-64 year olds in England and Wales it is possible to compare alcohol-related death rates for different socio-economic groups. In 2011, alcohol-related death rates were highest for those in routine occupations (e.g. bar staff, cleaners and labourers), with 29.5 and 12.6 deaths per 100,000 men and women respectively. Rates were lowest for those working in higher managerial and professional occupations (e.g. doctors, IT strategy and planning professionals and lawyers), with 7.3 deaths per 100,000 men and 5.2 deaths per 100,000 women. This meant that alcohol-related death rates for those in routine occupations were four times greater for men and two times greater for women, than those in professional roles.

Gender gap in alcohol death rates widest for those in semi-routine occupations

In 2011, the largest significant gender difference was found in semi-routine occupations (e.g. veterinary nurses, traffic wardens and security guards), where the rate was almost three times greater for men than women. In contrast, the higher managerial and professional occupations were the only class without a significant gender difference in the alcohol-related death rates.

Figure 1: Alcohol-related death rates by National Statistics Socio-Economic Classification (NS-SEC) for People of Working Age (16 to 64) in England and Wales, 2011

Figure 1: Alcohol-related death rates by National Statistics Socio-Economic Classification (NS-SEC) for People of Working Age (16 to 64) in England and Wales, 2011

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Alcohol death rate down 51% for women in higher managerial and professional occupations

Between 2001 and 2011, alcohol-related death rates decreased for women in higher and lower managerial and professional occupations as well as the routine occupations. The largest decrease was for women in higher managerial and professional occupations, halving from 10.5 to 5.2 deaths per 100,000 women. However, there was no significant change in alcohol-related death rates for men.

Figure 2: Alcohol-related death rates in 2001 and 2011 by National Statistics Socio-Economic Classification (NS-SEC) for People of Working Age (16 to 64) in England and Wales

Figure 2: Alcohol-related death rates in 2001 and 2011 by National Statistics Socio-Economic Classification (NS-SEC) for People of Working Age (16 to 64) in England and Wales

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The potential years of life lost tells us how many years of working life before the age of 65 would potentially be saved if premature deaths from an alcohol-related cause were avoided. For example, if a 16 year-old died they would have potentially lost 48 years of working life.

Men in routine occupations accounted for a quarter of working life lost to alcohol deaths

Men in routine occupations accounted for 25% and women 23% of potential years of working life lost to alcohol across all socio-economic classes in 2011.

For men in routine occupations, 420.9 potential years of working life per 100,000 men were lost because of alcohol-related deaths. This was five times greater than the number of years lost by men in higher managerial and professional occupations (82.4 years per 100,000 men).

For women in routine occupations, 177.3 potential years of working life per 100,000 women were lost because of alcohol-related deaths. This was three times greater than those in higher managerial and professional occupations (51.8 years lost per 100,000 women). Overall, there was more inequality between men than women.

Figure 3: Potential Years of Working Life Lost rates due to Alcohol-related Deaths by National Statistics Socio-Economic Classification (NS-SEC) for People of Working Age (16 to 64) in England and Wales, 2011

Figure 3: Potential Years of Working Life Lost rates due to Alcohol-related Deaths by National Statistics Socio-Economic Classification (NS-SEC) for People of Working Age (16 to 64) in England and Wales, 2011

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8% of total potential years of working life lost were caused by alcohol deaths

For all men, alcohol-related deaths were responsible for 8% of the potential years of working life lost in 2011, whereas for women it accounted for 6%.

Higher managerial men and women had the fewest potential years of working life lost as a result of alcohol-related deaths (6% and 4% respectively). In contrast, the highest number of working years lost was for men in semi-routine occupations (10%) and women in routine occupations (8%).

Working life lost to alcohol deaths down 44% among women in higher managerial jobs

Women in higher managerial and professional occupations and men in routine occupations lost fewer potential years of working life because of alcohol-related deaths in 2011 compared with 2001.  For men and women in other classes, there was no significant change in working years lost.

Where can I find out more about alcohol-related deaths?

These statistics were analysed by the Health Analysis and the Mortality Analysis teams at ONS. The analysis is based on data collected when deaths are certified and registered. If you would like to find out more about the latest alcohol-related deaths statistics, you can read the release or visit the health and social care page. If you have any comments or suggestions, we would like to hear them. Please email us at: mortality@ons.gsi.gov.uk.

Categories: Health and Social Care, Health of the Population, Causes of Death, Lifestyles and Behaviours, Drug use, Alcohol and Smoking, Alcohol Misuse, Population, Deaths, Mortality Rates, Alcohol-related Deaths
Content from the Office for National Statistics.
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