Page last updated: June 2022

Declines in alcohol consumption in Australia: some challenges to the theory of collectivity

There is significant debate about whether or not changes in per-capita alcohol consumption occur collectively across the entire distribution of drinking. A study used data from a decade of declining drinking in Australia to test the collectivity of drinking trends.
From a general population sample of 85,891 individuals aged 14 years and over, the researchers assessed trends in drinking for 20 quantile groups from repeated cross-sectional surveys (2010, 2013, 2016, 2019). Past-year volume of alcohol consumption was measured survey questions.
Throughout the whole population, alcohol consumption had declined in all percentile groups, with the largest proportional declines evident for light and moderate drinkers [e.g., drinkers in the 25th percentile declined by 32.7%; 95% confidence interval (CI) = -41.6, -22.3% per wave]. Broadly collective declines were also found for younger men and women with significant declines in every percentile group, but older groups showed some evidence of polarization. For example, women aged 45-64 years significantly increased their consumption (2.9% per wave, 95% CI = 0.3-5.5%), while consumption for those in the 25th percentile fell significantly (-16.7%, 95% CI = -27.6, -4.2%).
The declines in Australian drinking since 2010 have included important deviations from the collectivity predicted by Skog’s influential theory of collectivity of drinking, with markedly different patterns evident among different demographic groups.
Source: Mojica-Perez Y, Callinan S, Livingston M. Declines in alcohol consumption in Australia: some challenges to the theory of collectivity. Addiction. 2022 May;117(5):1295-1303.
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