Alcohol-related mortality by ethnic origin: Findings based on multigenerational population register data from Finland and Sweden

2020-06-18T08:33:24Z (GMT) by Jan Saarela Martin Kolk

Background: Alcohol-related mortality is associated with culture. This study aims to assess diversity within ethnic groups, and in particular alcohol-related mortality risks of persons with mixed and uniform ethnic origin across two national contexts.

Methods: We studied men and women of ethnic Finnish and ethnic Swedish origin, born 1953-1999. Data were from the multigenerational population registers of Finland and Sweden. In Finland, ethnic origin was assessed through own, mother’s, and father’s Finnish or Swedish ethnolinguistic affiliation. The data on Sweden were restricted to index persons born in Sweden, whose mother and father were born in Sweden or in Finland. Cox regression was used to examine the associations between ethnic origin and alcohol-related mortality in 1971-2017.

Results: For men in Finland, the hazard rate of alcohol-related mortality of Swedish-speakers with uniform Swedish background was 0.44 (95% CI: 0.38-0.52) that of Swedish-speakers with uniform Finnish background. The corresponding number for women was 0.40 (95% CI: 0.28-0.55). In Sweden, the rate of men with both parents born in Sweden was 0.40 (95% CI: 0.32-0.49) that of men with both parents born in Finland. The corresponding number for women was 0.50 (95% CI: 0.31-0.79). In both countries, persons with mixed background had an alcohol-related mortality rate between that of persons with uniform Finnish background and that of persons with uniform Swedish background.

Conclusion: The consistent pattern across countries necessitates increased policy attention to offspring disadvantaged via parental ethnicity, in order to minimise harmful consequences of alcohol consumption across and within ethnic groups.