The popular belief is that there is a drinking epidemic among young people. In fact, alcohol drinking by youth continues to drop. Research in more prosperous parts of the world shows “solid evidence” of less drinking by young people since 2005. In fact, surveys in the U.S. and some other countries shows drops in drinking by youth since about 1980. So these declines may largely be a continuation of earlier trends.
I. The Study
Many changes in drinking patterns are hard to understand. For example, major shifts in beverage preferences occur over time without any clear explanation. The same is true about consumption levels. And in the proportion of abstainers.
Also, it’s unclear why drinking by youth continues to fall. That decline occurs in countries with very different cultures, alcohol laws, social norms, and alcohol policies. Thus, we know what has been happening but not why it’s been happening.
I. The Study: Drinking by Youth
Analysts reviewed the research published during 12 years. The evidence suggests that drinking has dropped at all consumption levels. But the heaviest drinkers often tend to resist this pattern. This is consistent with much data since the 1980s.
The overall drop is strong among those who are underage to drink. And it’s often higher among males. In some countries, disadvantaged youth resist the decline. Yet African American youth have rather consistently had higher rates of abstention. Also lower rates of consumption among drinkers.
Some people believe that the widespread use of digital devices has impacted consumption. Yet the authors found no evidence to support that belief.
Early Onset of Drinking and Later Problems.
Age at First Intoxication vs Age at First Drink.
Early Puberty Predicts Early Alcohol Drinking.
Genetics and Early Age of Drinking.
Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health.
Total Alcohol Consumption Per Capita.
Pape, H. et al. Adolescents drink less: How, who and why? Drug Alc Rev, 2018.
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