American drinking rate pretty steady

Gallup reports on the drinking rate in the United States which is up to a 15-year high of 71 percent. The drinking rate appears to be defined by asking whether someone uses alcoholic beverages or is a total abstainer.

While this 15-year high may seem remarkable, looking at the data from today back to 1939, the drinking rate has been “remarkably stable” (in Gallup’s words). Even in complex societies, some behaviors are quite steady over time.

As to what characteristics influence drinking, Gallup notes a few:

One of the most significant predictors of alcohol consumption is church attendance. Those who seldom or never attend church are substantially more likely than more frequent church attenders to say they drink; and those who have no religious identity, Catholics, and non-Christians are more likely to drink than Protestants…

59% of older Americans drink alcohol, substantially lower than the percentages among those who are younger. Additionally, those with the lowest education levels and lowest incomes are less likely to drink than others.

Interesting look at some common behavior. I wish there was a follow-up question (which I am sure is asked in other surveys): why do you or don’t you drink?