Women Are Now Drinking Nearly as Much as Men

Why the gender gap on boozing is closing.

Oct 26 2016, 12:00pm

Foto via Flickr-brugeren StateofIsrael

It's not breaking news that women are catching up with men in terms of their drinking habits. But a global study released yesterday suggests that the alcohol gender gap now is closer than ever.

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The cross-analysis carried out by researchers at the University of New South Wales examined 68 studies across 36 countries, and included more than four million men and women born between 1891 and 2000. The results, published in the BMJ Open journal, show that men born in the early 1900s were 2.2 times more likely to drink than women. But in men born between 1891 and 2000, the figure drops to just 1.1 times more likely.

Unsurprisingly, because women are catching up to men in the amount they drink, alcohol-related problems have also almost equalled out between the sexes. The study also showed that "the same patterns were evident for problematic [alcohol] use, where the gender gap fell from 3 (1891-1910) to 1.2 (1991-2000), and for associated harms, where the gender gap fell from 3.6 to 1.3."

In a press statement to MUNCHIES, Emily Robinson, the director of campaigns at alcohol charity Alcohol Concern, guessed at the reasons for the increased consumption of alcohol among women: "Since the 1950s, we've seen women's drinking continue to rise. Drinking at home has continued to increase because alcohol is so cheap and easily available, it's become an everyday grocery item. We've also seen a concerted effort from the alcohol industry to market products and brands specifically to women."

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Yeah, we know all about those bottles of sparkly, pink "party girl" wine.

The University of New South Wales study comes shortly after the UK Government released its new drinking guidelines, bringing the recommended alcohol intake for men down from 21 units to 14 units a week (about six pints of beer or six medium glasses of wine), which is in line with the maximum suggested amount for women. However a Department of Health report raised fears that making the unit recommendations equal between the genders gives the impression that women are able to drink as much as men.

Something to mull over in the pub, eh?