Hangovers cost Australia an estimated $453 million: Study

Australia is spending an estimated $453 million every year while paying for overtime when someone replaces his/her colleague for a hangover says a new study.

The study surveyed 1,677 adult workers in 2008 and found that one third had a colleague who drank a lot often and 8% were negatively affected by that colleague's habit during the previous year. 3.5% of these workers had to work extra hours to compensate for their ‘hungover’ colleagues' lethargy. The average overtime was about 48 hours a year.

Researcher Michael Livingston, of the Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre led the study. He and his co-author Caroline Dale from Epidemiology and Population Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said the estimated cost of this overtime was about $453 million annually when average pay rates were considered. The real costs were likely to be significantly higher, they said.

They write, “While our estimate of the cost to co-workers of alcohol use by heavily drinking colleagues is large, it may represent the tip of the iceberg.” Alcohol consumption was also related to work efficacy thy said. “The cost of alcohol use in the workplace is multi-faceted and considerable... (It) can be caused by a reduction in the productive workforce from premature mortality or morbidity, absenteeism due to alcohol-related sickness, and reduced productivity while at work.”

They urged the government to introduce measures to reduce alcohol intake such as taxes on drinks according to alcoholic content etc. Livingston says, “The Federal government's response to alcohol has been fairly minimal so far.”

The article was published in the Medical Journal of Australia.

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.


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  1. Graham Smith Graham Smith United Kingdom says:

    Does this really surprise anyone? Remember that Australia was settled by convicted criminals. If anything it seems a bit on the low side for a bunch of drunken yobbos. In fact if I was the Prime Minister of Australia I would use the figure of $453 million as bragging rights going into the upcoming election, even if it is only the tip of the iceberg.

  2. Geoff Geoff Australia says:

    And so many from UK stock Graham, so we were behind the eight ball to start with

    Now that this scourge has been revealed the government should surely take action to protect the interests of our corporate masters, can't have our personal lives leaking over into our working lives and affecting our productivity, for of course we are human resources to be harvested to the maximum extent possible.

    Just a shame they aren't so worried about all of the impacts excessive consumption of work has on our personal lives...

  3. Ruddiger Ruddiger Australia says:

    $453 million. With 10 million workers, that's only $45 per person. That is hardly cause for alarm.

    Typical meddling doctors. The doctors should present the facts. They should stay out of the policy debate about taxes and so forth.

  4. Quirky Quirky Australia says:

    Hangovers cost Australia an estimated $453 million: Study

    That's because the govt keeps putting the price up..
    I remember when I could get a decent hangover for $10 bucks!

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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