The more income people have, the more educated they are and the higher their social status or class, the more likely they are to drink alcoholic beverages. They are also more likely to drink if they live in certain countries or regions.
For example, people in the United states are less likely to drink (more likely to abstain) than are those in other developed Western countries, as illustrated in Figure 1. 1
Abstention from alcohol in the U.S. is closely associated with social status. The lower the social class, the higher the abstention. And, as is true throughout the world, women are more likely to abstain than are men. 2 The proportions of abstainers by class and gender are seen in Figure 2.
There is also a strong relationship between higher educational level and alcohol consumption, as Graph 1 demonstrates. 3
In addition, people in the U.S. are less likely to consume alcohol if they are female, African-American, belong to a proscriptive Christian denomination (such as Mormon, Pentecostal and Baptist), are Islamic, live in rural areas, or live in the southeastern region of the country. 4
People choose to abstain from alcohol for many reasons. These include religious reasons, moral objections, abstinent family background, dislike of the taste of alcoholic beverages, fear of a lack of self-control, health reasons including the use of certain medications or pregnancy, the belief that alcohol consumption leads to dependence or alcoholism, legal reasons such as age, and the misperception that even light or moderate drinking is unhealthful even when not contraindicated for medical reasons. 5