NORWAY: Young people drinking less often during the pandemic

According to this spring’s drug survey, the number of young people aged 16-24 who say they drink alcohol weekly has declined in the last year. The elderly and adults, on the other hand, have drank more frequently.

The survey on tobacco and drug use in Norway (the drug survey) was carried out in collaboration with the National Institute of Public Health, and data were collected in the spring of 2021. During the past year, there have been periodic closures and restrictions on the opportunities for many people to socialise. In the big cities, it has sometimes been impossible to drink alcohol in restaurants and nightclubs due to strict corona rules.

Even though the turnover statistics can still report on a high sales volume of alcoholic beverages in the second quarter of 2021, we do not see any significant changes at the national level in terms of the proportion of the population who stated that they drank weekly within the last year – 34 per cent last year against 35 per cent this year, Statistics Norway reported. But how often you drink varies, as in previous years, with gender and age.

Men generally drink both slightly more often, and a little more than women do. Forty-three per cent of men state that they have drunk weekly in the past year, compared with 27 per cent of women. There are also slightly more men who have drunk weekly this year than last year, while it seems to be a slight decrease for women. The difference between the sexes is also more significant in 2021 than in 2020, but these proportions vary somewhat between different years.

Among young people in the age group 16-24, there has been a decrease in the proportion who have drunk alcohol regularly in the last 12 months. This applies to both young men and young women.

While 18 per cent of young men report drinking weekly in 2021, it was 27 per cent in 2020. Among young women, the proportion has gone from 24 per cent in 2020 to 16 per cent this year. These proportions vary somewhat from year to year. However, various restrictions on the possibility of larger parties and gatherings have likely reduced the proportion of young people who have drunk alcohol once a week or more often. There is reason to believe that this has also affected the increase in young people who state that they have not drunk in the past year, from 15 per cent in 2020 to 20 per cent in 2021.

Nevertheless, there is reason to point out that in the last 12 months, we have seen a slight increase in the proportion who have drunk alcohol among adults and in older age groups. There may be several reasons for such a development, but here too it is natural to link it to the pandemic. In addition, probably more people than before have drunk alcohol in their own homes during this period.

The proportion of people who drink at least six units of alcohol on the same occasion weekly has not changed significantly in the last year, although basic data show a slight increase for some adult age groups.

Source: Statistics Norway