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





The Surveys

Percentage of Drinkers

Volume of Alcohol Consumed

Volume of Alcohol Consumed in Heavier Drinking Occasions

Home Production of Alcohol

Drinking Patterns

Location of Drinking

Changes in Drinking

Satisfaction with Own Drinking

Attitudes to Alcohol

Alcohol-Related Problems from Own Drinking

Problems from Other's Drinking

Host Responsibility

Access to Alcohol and Age Verification by Those Under Minimum Purchase Age


The Surveys


Between late August and December 2000, data were collected from 5113 people aged 14-65 years to measure drinking patterns, alcohol-related problems and other alcohol-related issues.

The sample was a random selection of people from throughout New Zealand interviewed using the Alcohol & Public Health Research Unit’s CATI (computer assisted telephone interviewing) system. The response rate was 73%.

A comparison has been made with the results from a survey carried out between September and December 1995 using the same questionnaire and methodology.[1]

The surveys assessed drinking patterns and alcohol-related problems. They examined drinking in different locations and issues concerned with enforcement of the drinking laws and host responsibility practices.

The data have been analysed using appropriate statistical testing. All changes reported between the 1995 and 2000 surveys have been found to be significant at the 5% level. 

[1] Wyllie, A., Millard, M., Zhang, J.F. (1996) Drinking in New Zealand: A National Survey 1995.  Alcohol & Public Health Research Unit, University of Auckland.

Percentage of Drinkers

The majority of people surveyed in 2000 (85%) were drinkers. Eighty-eight percent of the men and 83% of the women were drinkers in 2000.

The regional distribution of drinkers had not changed over time and the Northern region remained the area with the fewest drinkers and the Southern region the area with the most drinkers.

The proportion of drinkers decreased in large cities and metropolitan areas between 1995 and 2000 and was lower in metropolitan areas than in all other areas.

Volume of Alcohol Consumed

There was an increase in the percentage of the sample consuming in excess of 10 litres of absolute alcohol annually, from 27% to 29%, and also in those consuming in excess of 20 litres, from 12% to 14%. These changes reflected increases in consumption among women and among 16-17 and 30-39 year olds of both genders.

Thirty-four percent of the total volume of alcohol consumed by the sample in 2000 was consumed by women. This was an increase since 1995. The average annual volume consumed by women rose markedly from 5.4 litres in 1995 to 7.3 litres by 2000, an increase from seven to nine glasses per week.

The average annual volume consumed by male drinkers in 2000 was 16.1 litres of absolute alcohol, equivalent to 20 cans of beer a week. This had not changed significantly from 1995.

Although there were no changes in volume consumed among men overall between 1995 and 2000, there were marked increases in the volume of alcohol consumed among males aged 14-15 and even larger increases for males aged 16-17 (from 8 to 20 litres).

There were also increases in volumes consumed by women aged 14-15, 16-17 and women over 25 years.

Increases in volumes consumed occurred in the Central and Southern regions and not Midland and Northern regions.

Volume of Alcohol Consumed in Heavier Drinking Occasions

A larger proportion of the total volume of alcohol consumed in 2000 was being consumed in heavier drinking occasions (defined as eight or more drinks for men and six or more for women). This had increased from 42% in 1995 to 50% in 2000. The proportion accounted for in heavier drinking occasions by men increased from 47% to 53% and for women from 31% to 42%.

Home Production of Alcohol

Home production of alcohol accounted for about 4% of the alcohol consumed and had not changed from 1995 to 2000.

Drinking Patterns

Frequency of Drinking

The average drinker drank once every two to three days in 2000, an increase from 1995. The percentage of daily drinkers remained at just under one in five men and one in ten women in both 1995 and 2000.

Women drank less often than men but, unlike men, women drinkers increased how often they drank between 1995 and 2000. This was true of women aged 14-15, and 16-17 years and of women aged 30-49.

Most age groups showed no change in drinking frequency but drinkers in the youngest group, 14–15 year olds, increased their frequency becoming on average weekly drinkers in 2000. Those aged 16-17 also drank more often.

Those living in the Central and Southern regions drank more often than they had in 1995 and this was particularly marked among women. Men living in the Northern region were the only group to drink less often in 2000 than in 1995.

There were increases in frequency of drinking of those living in small cities and small towns.

Typical Quantities

There was an increase from 1995 to 2000 in the typical quantities consumed during a drinking occasion. Across all the drinkers this amounted to less than one drink. Women increased their typical quantities from just over two drinks per occasion to between three and four drinks in 2000. Men increased their typical quantities from four drinks in 1995 to five in 2000.

The typical quantities consumed by males aged 16-17 increased from about five cans of beer on a drinking occasion in 1995 to eight cans in 2000. The largest typical amounts, equivalent to almost eight and half cans of beer, were consumed by 18-19 year olds. The typical amounts consumed by both these age groups exceeded that of the heaviest drinkers in 1995, 20-24 year olds who had consumed seven drinks per occasion. There was also an increase in typical quantities consumed by males aged 14-15, from three drinks to five drinks.

Women of all ages also showed an increase in the typical quantities consumed and the increases were most marked among those aged 16-17, 18-19 and 20-24 years. Those aged 16-17 consumed just under six drinks per occasion in 2000, an increase of just under two drinks since 1995.

There was a decrease in the percentage of those who typically drank two drinks or fewer. For men this declined from 27% to 23% and for women from 49% to 35%.

There was an increase in women drinking six or more drinks on typical drinking occasions (from 7% in 1995 to 11% in 2000).

There was no increase in the percentage of men drinking eight or more drinks on typical drinking occasions, this was stable at 14%. There were, however, increases in the percentage of males aged 16-17 years drinking eight or more drinks, from 19% in 1995 to 36% in 2000.

Increases in typical quantities consumed from 1995 to 2000 were found in all regions and every level of urbanisation except large towns.

Frequency of Drinking Larger Amounts

In separate questions, men were asked how often they consumed six or more drinks and women were asked how often they consumed four or more. Taking the drinkers as a whole, about one in eight said that they did so at least once a week and this did not change from 1995 to 2000.

There was no change in the percentage of women drinking at these levels (6/4 drinks or more) at least once a week but there was a decrease in the proportion of men, from 21% in 1995 to 19% in 2000.

Frequency of Drinking Enough to Feel Drunk

Thirteen percent of men and 6% of women reported drinking enough to feel drunk at least once a week. About one in three men and one in four women aged 18–19 did so at least weekly. There was an increase in the proportion of 16-17 year olds who reported consuming enough to get drunk at least once a week (from 10% to 17%) and also in the proportion of women drinkers who did so (from 4% to 6%).

Location of Drinking

Forty six percent of all the alcohol consumed by women and 40% of the volume consumed by men was in their own homes. Just under one fifth was consumed in other people’s homes.

Over a third of men’s alcohol consumption and a quarter of women’s took place on licensed premises (pubs/hotels/taverns/bars, nightclubs, sports clubs, other clubs or restaurants/cafés).

The locations which were over-represented in heavier drinking occasions for both men and women were pubs, nightclubs, motor vehicles, outdoor public places, marae and special events. Other people’s homes were over-represented for men and other bars for women.

There were increases in the quantities typically consumed in a number of locations between 1995 and 2000. This was particularly true for women, whose typical quantities increased in their own and others’ homes, nightclubs, sports events and in cars. In keeping with the increases seen overall, few locations saw a decline in the quantities typically consumed there.

Changes In Drinking

Half of the drinkers surveyed said that they were drinking the same amount as a year ago, about one third were drinking less and fewer than one in five said they were drinking more. This was the same in 1995 and 2000.

Concerns about drinking and driving, and health and fitness were most often mentioned as reasons for drinking less in both 1995 and 2000.

In 1995 only 3% of men aged 18-29 cited pressure to drink less from people serving drinks. In 2000 this had increased to 8%.

Financial reasons showed some change. Fewer men over 30 were drinking less because of concern about spending too much on alcohol.

Fewer women 30 and over who were drinking less were concerned about effects of alcohol on their health.

Markedly more 18-29 year old men in 2000 mentioned the availability of wine in supermarkets as a reason for increased drinking, bringing the percentage citing this up to the same level as women in the same age group. Among women of the same age group there was an increase in the proportions attributing an increase in their drinking to longer opening hours.

Satisfaction with Own Drinking

People were asked to compare their current level with the level they felt was right for them. For women there was no change, one in ten felt they were drinking more than they were happy with. For men there had been a decrease from 15% to 12% feeling they were drinking too much.

Attitudes to Alcohol

Most drinkers found takeaway alcohol easy to obtain and there was an increase in the numbers who felt that it was easy to buy at times when they wanted it. However, males aged 14-17 years were finding takeaway alcohol more difficult to obtain in 2000 than was the case in 1995; there was a drop in the proportions who agreed that alcohol was easy to buy (from 58% to 34%).

There was a marked decrease in those who felt alcohol was expensive and a decrease in those who had to be careful about their spending on alcohol in 2000.

Most respondents agreed that drinking by teenagers was a problem in their community (86%) and 51% felt that the laws on selling alcohol to younger people were not being enforced enough. There was less concern expressed about these issues by those under 18.

Attitudes towards alcohol consumption were more liberal in 2000 than was the case in 1995. Attitudes to wine showed the greatest changes. More men and women agreed that wine was a suitable drink for most times of the day and there was a reduction in the number of both men and women who disagreed.

There were mixed changes in attitudes to beer. While fewer men over 30 agreed it was suitable for most times of the day, attitudes among women under 30 relaxed, with fewer disagreeing that it was suitable.

Attitudes to spirits also relaxed among men aged 18-29 with fewer disagreeing that spirits were suitable for most times of the day.

A more liberal attitude towards alcohol consumption was also apparent in the increasing tolerance towards getting drunk now and again, particularly among women and among males aged 14-15.

There was no change in the numbers of those agreeing that overall alcohol was good for their health (about one in three drinkers), but fewer 14-17 year olds and fewer of those over 30 disagreed. Men were also less likely to disagree, as were women over 30. However, fewer women under 30 agreed that alcohol was good for their health in 2000 (a decrease from 25% to 17%).

There was an increase in those who were indifferent to alcohol advertising on TV, fewer agreed they really enjoyed alcohol advertisements and fewer disagreed (from 41% to 37% in both cases). Changes were most apparent in the younger age groups. Men under 30 were the most likely to agree that they really enjoyed TV alcohol advertisements, but fewer men aged 18-19 did so in 2000 (55%) than in 1995 (63%). More women under 30 were also  indifferent to such advertising. Disagreement that alcohol advertisements on TV were enjoyable decreased for 18-29 year olds, from 32% in 1995 to 26% in 2000) and agreement decreased for 14-17 year olds (from 50% to 39%).

There was no change in those agreeing that people who drink and drive are likely to get caught but there was a decrease in those who disagreed, particularly among those aged 18-29 and among women aged 14-17.

Alcohol-Related Problems from Own Drinking

Drinkers were asked whether they had experienced specific problems in the previous 12 months as a result of their own drinking. In 2000, 11% of men and 7% of women had experienced at least five of the 15 problems asked about.

Experiencing a range of problems - such as awakening the next day unable to remember things done while drinking; feeling the effects of alcohol while working, studying or doing housework; feeling ashamed of something they had done while drinking; and getting drunk when there was an important reason to stay sober - increased among women but decreased among men.

There was an increase in the experience of one or more problems for women and a decrease for men. Women experiencing at least five of the fifteen problems in the past twelve months increased from 5% to 7% but there was a decrease among men (from 13% to 11%).

Younger people were more likely to report these problems; about one third of men in the 16-24 year old age groups and between 20% and 30% of women in the same age groups reported experiencing at least five problems in the past year.

There was a marked increase in the proportion of 16-17 year old women experiencing five or more problems, from 14% in 1995 to 30% in 2000 and seven or more problems, from 2% in 1995 to 13% in 2000. There was also a smaller increase for women aged 30-39 (from 3% to 6%).

There were decreases in the proportion of men, of drinkers aged 20-49 and women aged 20-24 who had driven at least once when they had probably had too much to drink but not for women in the under 20 and over 30 age groups.

Problems from Others’ Drinking

About one in four people felt that the drinking of others had had a harmful effect on their friendships or social life and one in five on their home life, a decrease from 1995. More than one in ten felt there had been a harmful effect on their financial position from others’ drinking.

The percentage of women reporting a large or medium effect on one or more areas of their lives decreased between 1995 and 2000 but did not change for men.

In the previous 12 months, 8% of men and 5% of women had been physically assaulted by someone who had been drinking. Women were more likely than men to report sexual harassment as a result of someone else’s drinking, 10% compared with 3% in 2000.

Younger men and women were more likely to have experienced both physical assault (one in five men under 30 in the past twelve months) and sexual harassment (one in five women under 30 in the past twelve months) by someone who had been drinking.

There was a small decrease in men reporting involvement in motor vehicle accidents and other types of major accidents due to someone else’s drinking.

Host Responsibility

Questions were asked relating to responsible hosting practices, especially at licensed premises.

The majority of the patrons of pubs and sports clubs thought that drunks would be served at these premises but there was a decrease in those holding this view from 1995 to 2000. The majority of nightclub patrons also thought drunks would be served but, unlike those in pubs and sports clubs, this perception did not change over time. There was a slight increase in those who thought that drunks would be served in a friend’s home.

Proactive police monitoring of licensed premises was also asked about. The proportion of drinking occasions in which police had been seen had declined in pubs but remained at similar levels in nightclubs and sports clubs.

Access to Alcohol and Age Verification by those Under Minimum Purchase Age

On-Licensed Premises

The law change allowing the purchase of alcohol in licensed premises by those aged 18 and 19 was introduced between the two surveys, but there were no changes in the percentages of this age group drinking in any of the most popular licensed drinking locations suggesting that a de facto age of 18 already existed in 1995. Almost three quarters had drunk in pubs both prior to and after the law change. There was a decline in the percentage of visits by this age group in which they were refused entry or to buy a drink.

Age identification was requested for 18-19 year olds about half as often as they had consumed alcohol in a pub (0.46) and most often (0.57) in night clubs. The ratio of age identification requests to drinking occasions was about one to five in sports clubs and less than one to seven at sports events, special events and in restaurants, cafés and coffee shops.

About one in four drinkers aged 16-17 had consumed alcohol in pubs, sports events and sports clubs, more than one in three at restaurants, cafés or coffee shops and more than half at special events (such as festivals, music events or dance parties). There was an increase in the number of visits during the previous 12 months which had resulted in a refusal relative to drinking occasions in nightclubs, from (0.1) to (0.2), but not in pubs or in sports clubs. In 2000, one refusal was experienced for every five drinking occasions in nightclubs and pubs but less than one in twenty at sports clubs, sports events, special events and at restaurants, cafés or coffee shops.

Fewer age identification requests relative to drinking occasions were made for 16-17 year olds in pubs (0.38) and nightclubs (0.43) than for 18-19 year olds. Less than one request was made for every ten drinking occasions at sports events and at sports clubs and less than one in 30 at special events, and at restaurants, cafés or coffee shops.

The most popular locations for the youngest drinkers, aged 14-15, were at special events, restaurants and cafés and sports events. There were few refusals in these venues. Requests for age identification were also low in these locations, less than one request for every six drinking occasion at sports clubs and sports events and less than one to 25 drinking occasions at special events and at restaurants, cafés or coffee shops.

Off-licensed premises

Those aged under 20 were also asked about their purchase of takeaway alcohol.

There were marked increases in takeaway purchases from supermarkets, wine shops and wholesalers by those aged 18-19 years, who had become legally able to purchase by 2000.

The ratio of requests for age identification to successful purchases of takeaway alcohol was highest in sports clubs (0.49) for 18-19 year olds. This age group made around three purchases for every request for age identification in supermarkets, hotel/tavern bottle stores, wine shops and dairies.

Among those aged 16-17 years there were decreases in those purchasing takeaway alcohol from bottle stores and wine shops. There was an increase in refusals because of age in supermarkets and sports clubs but no changes in other locations. Refusals were highest in dairies, just under one refusal for every two successful purchases.

Fewer requests for identification as a proportion of successful takeaway purchases were experienced by 16-17 year old drinkers than by 18-19 year olds. The ratio of age identification requests to purchases for 16-17 year olds was highest in dairies (0.45) and lowest in hotel or tavern bottle stores and in wine shops – less than one in seven. It was also low in sports clubs and supermarkets - about one in five.

With the exception of hotel/tavern bottle stores, where there had been a decrease, there has been little change in purchase of takeaway alcohol among those aged 14-15. Less than one in ten of those aged 14-15 purchased alcohol in any locations. There was an increase in refusals reported for this age group in bottles stores.

Other Sources of Supply

The majority of drinkers under 18 obtained alcohol from another person at least once in the previous 12 months (71% of 14-15 year olds and 90% of 16-17 year olds).  Almost 60% of 16-17 year olds and just over one third of those aged 14-15 obtained alcohol at least once every two months from another person. 

The most common sources of alcohol purchased for drinkers aged under 18 were friends (58%) and parents (46%). Over two thirds of 16-17 year olds, and 45% of 14-15 year old drinkers had obtained alcohol from friends in the previous 12 months. Half of 16-17 year olds, and 39% of 14-15 year old drinkers had consumed alcohol supplied by parents.

Younger drinkers said that friends and parents were the people who bought alcohol for them the most often (50% and 37% respectively). Friends were the most frequent supplier for 16-17 year old drinkers (52%) and 35% received alcohol most often from parents. Friends (46%) and parents (41%) were also the ones bought alcohol most often for 14-15 year olds.

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