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DRINKING  IN NEW ZEALAND
National Surveys Comparison 1995 & 2000
 
Ruth Habgood, Sally Casswell, Megan Pledger and Krishna Bhatta,  
 
Alcohol & Public Health Research Unit, November 2001

CONSUMPTION

PREVALENCE OF DRINKING

The majority of people surveyed in 2000 (85%) reported that they were drinkers, that is they had consumed alcohol in the previous 12 months. This had not changed significantly from 1995 (87%). 

Figure 1


Eighty-eight percent of men and 83% of women aged 14-65 years were drinkers in 2000. There was an increase in the proportion of 18-19 year oldwomen who were drinkers, from 78% in 1995 to 89% in 2000, and a decrease (88% to 82%) in the proportions of women aged 40-49 who were drinkers.

There were no changes in the number of drinkers between 1995 and 2000 in any of the regions. However in 2000, as in 1995, there were significant differences between the regions in the numbers of drinkers. In 2000, as in 1995, there was a smaller proportion of drinkers in the Northern region (81%) compared with the other regions. In 2000, 84% of the men and 78% of the women in the Northern region were drinkers. The highest proportion of drinkers was found in the Southern region (90%). In this region 92% of men and 89% of women were drinkers. This was significantly higher than in all other regions. Eighty-six percent of the sample said that they were drinkers in the Central and Midlands regions. 

The proportion of drinkers decreased in large cities (from 90% to 87%) and metropolitan areas (from 83% to 79%) and was lower in metropolitan areas in both 1995 and 2000 than in all other areas. The proportion of women drinkers in metropolitan areas and men drinkers in large cities has also decreased since 1995 but the proportion of male drinkers in small cities has increased.

VOLUME OF ALCOHOL CONSUMED

The volume of alcohol consumed by the sample was calculated from their responses to how often and how much the respondents typically consumed in a number of locations.

The average annual volume reported for all drinkers in 2000 was 11.4 litres of absolute alcohol per drinker. This represents a marked increase (2.0 litres or 21%) in the average volume reported consumed since 1995 (9.4 litres).

The volume of absolute alcohol consumed by women rose from 5.4 litres in 1995 to 7.3 in 2000, an increase from seven to nine glasses per week.[1] The volume consumed by men (16.1 litres Ė equivalent to 20 cans of beer per week) did not change significantly from 1995.

Males consumed 66% of the total volume of absolute alcohol in 2000 while women consumed 34% (Figure 2). The proportion of alcohol consumed by women in 2000 increased from 30% in 1995.

Figure 2


Distribution across the Sample

As is commonly found in alcohol surveys, there was considerable variation across the sample in the annual volume of alcohol consumed by drinkers as shown in Figure 3. In both 1995 and 2000 more than half of the drinkers drank five litres or less of absolute alcohol, or fewer than seven drinks per week. The percentage consuming 10 or more litres per year increased from 27% in 1995 to 29% in 2000 and there was also an increase in those exceeding twenty litres (from 12% to 14%). These changes reflected increases in consumption among women and among 16-17 and 30-39 year olds.

The proportion of 16-17 year olds consuming in excess of 10 litres rose from 20% to 30% and there was an increase in those aged 30-39 consuming in excess of 20 litres, from 11% to 14%.

While there were no increases for men overall in larger volumes consumed, there were increases among men aged 16-17 whose consumption exceeded 10 litres (from 24% to 38%) and among men aged 30-39 whose consumption exceeded 20 litres (from 18% to 24%).

The percentage of women whose consumption exceeded 10 litres rose from 15% to 20% between 1995 and 2000 and the proportion exceeding 20 litres from 5% to 7%. There were also increases among women aged 30-39 whose consumption exceeded 10 litres (from 12% to 19%).

Figure 3 


(The data plotted in Figure 2 are in 2-litre groupings with the mid-point plotted. There were a small number of drinkers (2.0% and 2.7% respectively) whose annual consumption was 60 litres or more).


[1] A small amount of the increase in the volume consumed from 1995 to 2000 can be attributed to the addition of two new locations. Drinking in these locations accounted for 10% (ie 0.2 litres) of the 1.9 litre increase in the average volume consumed by women.
Figure 4 shows the mean volume of alcohol consumed annually by men in different age groups. In 1995 and again in 2000 there were marked differences between different age groups, with the volume reaching its peak at ages 18-19 in 2000. This is younger than in 1995 when the largest volumes were consumed by 20-24 year old men.
Among male drinkers there have been marked increases in the volumes consumed by younger age groups. The volumes consumed by those aged 14-15 increased from four to nine litres, an increase to the equivalent of about 11 drinks per week, and from 8 to 20 litres for those aged 16-17, or to about 25 drinks per week. The increase among the 18-19 year olds and the decrease among those aged 20-24 and those aged 25-29 did not reach the level of significance.

Figure 4 [1]


Womenís volume of drinking increased between 1995 and 2000 across all age groups from 5.4 litres in 1995 (equivalent to seven drinks per week) to 7.3 litres by 2000 (just over nine drinks per week). There were significant increases in the volumes consumed by 14-15 and 16-17 year olds and by women in the over 25 age groups (Figure 5). The highest average quantities consumed by women were by those in the 18-19 and 20-24 year old age groups (17 litres and 13 litres respectively).

Figure 5


In 2000 there were differences in the volume of alcohol consumed between the Central region, with the highest annual consumption, and the Midlands, which had the lowest. There were also some differences between regions in terms of changes between 1995 and 2000, with significant increases in annual volumes consumed in the Central and Southern regions but not in the Midlands or Northern regions.
There were increases in the annual volumes consumed by women in all regions but increases in menís consumption in all regions did not reach the level of significance.
There were also differences by level of urbanisation, with increases in volumes consumed in large and small cities, small towns and rural areas but not in metropolitan areas. Womenís consumption increased in all settings and menís in rural areas.

[1] Note: figures in the graphs are geometric means and figures quoted in the text are averages (see pXX). (Insert p no for analysis under The Survey Methododology

VOLUME OF ALCOHOL CONSUMED IN HEAVIER DRINKING OCCASIONS

Because of the risk of alcohol-related harm associated with heavier drinking occasions, estimates were made of how much of the alcohol being consumed by the sample as a whole was consumed in heavier drinking occasions. For this analysis these were defined as those occasions in which men consumed eight drinks or more and women consumed six drinks or more.
 
The percentage of the alcohol consumed in these heavier drinking occasions rose markedly between 1995 and 2000 (Figure 6). In 2000, half of the alcohol market was being consumed in heavier drinking occasions.  

Figure 6

Percentage of total volume of absolute alcohol consumed in heavier drinking occasions


 

 

There has been a marked increase in the proportion of the total volume of alcohol consumed by men that was consumed in heavier drinking occasions. In 2000 more than half of the alcohol (53%) consumed by men was drunk in heavier drinking occasions compared with 47% in 1995.
 
For women the increase was even more marked. The proportion of the total alcohol consumed by women that was consumed in heavier drinking occasions rose from 31% in 1995 to 42% in 2000.
 
Figure 7 shows the total volumes consumed per drinker by men and women in heavier drinking occasions.  
 
Figure 7  


HOME PRODUCTION

Because home production of alcohol is not subject to tax, it is not included in the Statistics New Zealand data on alcohol available for consumption.
In 2000, 3% of respondents said they had made beer, wine or spirits at home in the previous 12 months. In 1995 this had been reported by 4% of the sample.
In 2000, the amount produced accounted for about 4% of alcohol available for consumption which had not changed from 1995.  

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