We Provide
Alcohol in NZ
  A Decade of Drinking
Alcohol Advertising
Drugs in New Zealand
Policy Research
Community Action
Food Research
Evaluation Research
Current Issues


Spacer Spacer
Sally Casswell and Krishna Bhatta
Alcohol & Public Health Research Unit, May 2001


The Surveys  
Auckland in the 1990s
Drinking Patterns and Problems  
Drinking Locations
People’s Perception of Their Own Drinking
Attitudes About Alcohol
Economic Influences on Drinking
Effect of changes in availability and marketing  

The Surveys

This report compared the results of annual surveys carried out in the Auckland region between 1990 and 1999. Interviewing took place in November and December each year.

The surveys assessed drinking patterns, alcohol-related problems and other alcohol-related issues. 

All of the annual samples were randomly selected from people living in the Auckland telephone free-calling area. Respondents aged 14-65 years were interviewed using the Alcohol & Public Health Research Unit's computer assisted telephone interviewing system.

The sample was approximately 1000 for each survey and response rates were 60-70%.

The data have been analysed using analysis of covariance or logistic regression and where changes are reported these have been found to be statistically significant.


Auckland in the 1990s

A number of changes in Auckland likely to have promoted drinking included greater numbers of licensed retail outlets, new kinds of premises, longer hours of opening, easier access for young people to nightclubs, the introduction of new ready mixed drinks and the introduction of television and radio marketing of alcohol brands.

Other changes in Auckland which would be expected to have influenced drinking in a downward direction were the introduction of compulsory breath testing and graduated drivers’ licences, an economic recession in the first part of the decade and a slight increase in the real price of alcohol in the second part of the decade.



There was a decline in the number of drinkers in the earlier part of the decade but a return to previous levels by the end of the decade. People on lower and middle incomes, in particular, responded to reductions in the real value of their incomes by not drinking. 


      Drinking Patterns and Problems

Among drinkers there were small but significant increases in a number of measures of heavier drinking.  The quantity consumed on a typical drinking occasion increased across the decade.  People were also asked how often they drank larger amounts (six or more drinks for men and four or more for women) and how often they drank enough to feel drunk.  Both of these measures increased over the decade, although the trend was not maintained in the last two years.  Reports of alcohol-related problems also increased over the decade.

The increases in typical quantities consumed occurred even when frequency of drinking decreased, as it did during the recession at the beginning of the decade.

The youngest people in the sample (aged 14-19 years) showed the greatest volatility in their patterns of drinking.  The percentage abstaining increased during the middle of the decade and then decreased in subsequent years.  The typical quantities consumed on a drinking occasion and frequency of drinking enough to feel drunk increased over the decade.

Men under 30, already the group reporting the heaviest drinking, showed increases in typical quantities, drinking enough to feel drunk, frequency of drinking larger amounts and problems.  Within this group of younger men, there was a decrease over the latter part of the decade in those who gave ‘concern over being caught drink-driving’ as a reason for drinking less.

Women under 30 were similar to younger men in that they reported increased typical quantities, frequency of drinking enough to feel drunk, frequency of drinking larger amounts and numbers of problems, although the increases were small and their drinking remained well below the levels of men.  They were the only group in the sample to report an increase in frequency of drinking over the decade. There was a decease in the latter part of the decade in the numbers who gave concern over being caught drinking and driving as a reason for drinking less.

Men aged 30 and over did not show increases in the typical quantities consumed, frequency of drinking larger amounts and drinking enough to feel drunk. 

Women aged 30 and over reported slightly increased typical quantities consumed, increased frequency of drinking enough to feel drunk and increased problems.

Higher and lower status occupational groups differed in their drinking patterns.  Those employed in lower status occupations such as service, sales and manual workers drank larger typical quantities and more often reported drinking enough to feel drunk, but drank less frequently than the higher status occupational group: the professional, managerial and administrative categories. Both higher and lower occupation groups showed increases in typical quantities and drinking enough to feel drunk over the decade.

Drinking Locations

One’s own home, already a very popular drinking location, increased slightly in popularity and women under 30 and those in the 14 - 19 age group drank more often in their own homes.  The typical quantities consumed at home also increased over the decade.

Drinking in other people’s homes was also a popular location in which both the frequency of drinking and the typical quantities consumed increased over the decade. The increase in typical quantity was particularly marked for the 14-19 age group. Men and women under 30, and women aged 30 and over also increased the typical quantities consumed in others’ homes.

Pubs and nightclubs became more popular as drinking venues and people both drank more often and drank larger quantities in these locations over the decade.  In nightclubs the increases occurred among those under 30.

The number of people drinking at restaurants did not increase whereas the numbers did increase for cafes.  People drank more often in both but the typical quantities they consumed decreased.

There was an increase in the typical quantities consumed in outdoor public places by the 14-19 age group and by men under 30.  The 14-19 year olds also increased the quantities they drank in cars.

Drinking in sports clubs and at sports events became less frequent and men over 30 drank smaller quantities in sports clubs.

Workplaces became less frequent locations for drinking, particularly for older men.

Drinking on domestic flights increased over the decade, both in terms of numbers of people and how often they drank. The typical quantities consumed increased among people over 30.

People’s Perception of Their Own Drinking

There was no change over the decade in the percentages who said that they thought they were drinking too much, that they were drinking less than the previous year or that they were drinking more than the previous year.

Attitudes About Alcohol

There was a decrease over the decade in the percentages who were seriously concerned over the drinking of friends or family. The only group not showing such a decrease were the older men (who were also the only group whose drinking had remained stable).

Over the decade there was an increasing acceptance of wine as a drink suitable for most times of the day, particularly among those over 30.  In 1999 about one in three of the sample agreed that both wine and beer were suitable for most times of the day.

Economic Influences on Drinking

There were decreases in frequency of drinking in the early part of the decade. These were likely to have been influenced by the economic recession.  Frequency of drinking returned to pre-recession levels during the economic recovery despite a slight increase in the real price of alcohol.

While the economic climate earlier in the decade, constrained the frequency of drinking it did not curtail heavier drinking occasions.

Income groups differed, with higher income groups having a higher percentage of drinkers, and drinking more often. Typical amounts consumed were more similar between the three income groups.

A marked in real income in the first part of the decade, which was greater for lower and middle income people, was associated with an increase in the proportion of people not drinking.

Having less money available to spend was most often given as a reason for drinking less in 1991 and decreased thereafter. That alcohol had become more expensive was also given less often as a reason for drinking less over the decade, probably reflecting the impact of the economic recovery and despite a slight increase in real price over the latter part of the decade.

Effect of changes in availability and marketing

The 1989 Sale of Liquor Act allowed sale of wine in supermarkets. Drinking more wine and its availability in supermarkets were given as reasons for drinking more by increasing numbers of people over the decade.

Changes in the 1989 Sale of Liquor Act resulted in longer hours of opening for pubs and nightclubs. Since that time there have been increases in the typical quantities consumed at those drinking locations.  The people giving longer opening hours as a reason for drinking more remained stable at about one in eight over the decade.

There has been an increase in drinking venues and retail outlets, and the introduction of marketing of alcohol on television and radio during the decade. This has contributed to greater everyday exposure to alcohol and the promotion of a positive image for alcohol.  In the surveys there was a decrease in the number of respondents who expressed concern over other people’s drinking, despite increases in reports of problems. This, plus the widespread increases in typical quantities consumed, including by teenagers in the sample, suggest the development of a more liberal social climate.

Another factor likely to have contributed to a more liberal social climate around alcohol is the widespread media attention paid to the reduced risk of ischemic heart disease attributed to alcohol. There was a significant increase over the decade in those saying they were drinking more because it was good for their health.

Top | Back | Next | Home

Kennett Brothers Web Design
October 1997