IRISH people spend almost three and a half times more of their income on alcohol than the European average, an EU-wide survey reveals.
A study on household expenditure across the 27 EU member states highlights how Irish consumers are the biggest spenders in Europe on alcohol by a long distance.
It estimates that more than €4 out of every €100 spent in Ireland is on alcohol compared with the EU average of just €1.20.
The survey, by the EU statistical office, Eurostat, shows that the average Irish household spends 4.1% of its budget on alcohol — well ahead of the nation with the next highest expenditure on booze — Romania at just 2.3%.
The figures are based on 2005 spending patterns, the latest year for which comparative statistics are available.
Health Services Executive public health specialist, Dr Joe Barry, expressed surprise that Irish spending on alcoholic drinks as a percentage of total expenditure was not even higher. The figures look at expenditure by household rather than by adults.
“However, the figures are consistent with other findings that alcohol consumption levels in the Republic are about 30% higher than the EU average,” said Dr Barry.
He pointed out that a survey of Irish third-level students a few years ago showed they spent more on alcohol than food. Dr Barry expressed concern that a strategy to reduce Ireland’s drink culture and associated problems was still not being implemented.
However, the findings indicate that overall spending on alcohol in Ireland is falling as expenditure on alcohol represented 5.5% of total household spend in 2001.
They also show that Irish people spend almost 18% of their budget on food, drink and tobacco and 30.6% on housing. Irish consumers also spend less on groceries, clothing and footwear, housing, health and transport than their European counterparts.
The survey provides evidence that Ireland is one of the EU’s richest economies as we spend more of our income on recreation, leisure, and education than most Europeans. We spend 6% of our income on restaurants and 4.4% on health and education.
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