Youth Drinking

August 5th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

I was one of those who strongly opposed the recent attempt to increase the purchase age from 18 to 20. A hysteria had been generated about drinking in NZ, and especially youth drinking – and many blamed the change in the purchase age in 1999.

The reality is that a number of surveys had shown that youth drinking had declined, not increased, since then. Once these facts got out to MPs, I think it helped the majority of them make the sensible decision not to scapegoat 18 and 19 year olds.

One of the significant pieces of research is a study done by Auckland University every few years of almost 10,000 secondary . Their 2000 and 2007 studies showed a significant decline in youth drinking during that period.

Well last week the 2012 study came out, and the data was fascinating. It showed beyond any doubt that there had been significant drops in the number of school students who drink, and who drink regularly or binge, since 2000.

schooldrinking

 

That is a seismic shift. It totally blows away the myths about youth drinking having got far worse, based on anecdotal stories and media horror stories.

  • The proportion of students who have drunk alcohol has dropped 25%, or around a third from 2000.
  • The proportion of students who are current drinkers has dropped 25%, just over a third from 2000
  • The proportion of students who drink regularly (weekly) has dropped 9%, just over one half from 2000
  • The proportion of students who have binge drinked (five or more in a session) in the last month has dropped 18%, or just under a half from 2000

Also of interest:

  • The proportion of students who have driven after drinking has fallen from 7.8% to 3.9% – a drop of a half.
  • The proportion of students who have been in a car with a driver who has been drinking has fallen from 27.8% to 18.4% – a drop of one third.

On the non alcohol side:

  • The proportion of students who have smoked dropped from 38.2% to 23.0%
  • The proportion of students who smoke weekly dropped from 6.7% to 3.2%
  • The proportion of students who have had dropped from 31.3% to 24.4%
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29 Responses to “Youth Drinking”

  1. RRM (9,606 comments) says:

    I think it’s AWESOME that sex is included in that list of other recreational drugs being researched! :-)

    (Nothing constructive to add, sorry, I’ll get me hat & coat and see meself out..)

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  2. La Grand Fromage (145 comments) says:

    I know it is disclosed that David did some work for the alcohol industry, but I wonder whether he is still getting paid.

    It would put into perspective the amount of pro booze industry posts that he generates.

    [DPF: 20 demerits. I've been advocating for a drinking age of 18 since the early 1990s]

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  3. Griff (6,967 comments) says:

    Missing one vital ingredient for 2013
    how many smoked k2 or its equivalents?

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  4. MikeG (411 comments) says:

    The survey is great news re secondary school students, but what about those in their late-teens that are filling the hospital A & E departments? Doctors who have to treat those people say that the problem is increasing.

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  5. ArranH (14 comments) says:

    Come on David, don’t try a trick like that, trying to show that the 1999 law change was a good thing but yet displaying data that doesn’t even show 1999. I expect better than that from this blog. All this data shows is that youth have drunk less since 2000. It does NOT show that the 1999 law change was good or bad, as there could have been a substantial jump in 1999.

    [DPF: This survey only started in 2000, but you are grasping at straws if you think that in one year youth drinking would have increased by a third. A drop in the age would not overnight lead to a massive increase.

    But as it happens other surveys do go back to before 1999, such as the ALAC ones and I have done previous posts on them as they also show that youth drinking is much lower today than pre 1999]

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  6. swan (659 comments) says:

    “Doctors who have to treat those people say that the problem is increasing.”

    I prefer robust statistics to anecdotes, personally. The numbers are also declining for post secondary school youth.

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  7. seanmaitland (468 comments) says:

    This is highly dodgy – as others have pointed out you need to include other drug use in the picture to see what the real story on youth abuse rates are.

    The quality of analysis provided in this blog article is what I would expect from the Green Party – i.e. very poor and misleading.

    [DPF: Actually what you mean is the data doesn't fit your prejudices so you reject it. This is a post on the drinking age, so your wanting to draw in other substances is irrelevant.

    As it happens the survey shows a drop in tobacco and cannabis consumption also]

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  8. alloytoo (457 comments) says:

    Oh dear

    Show some stats that indicate that the sky isn’t falling and like magic unscientific anecdotal evidence is trotted out.

    Amazing thing about anecdotal evidence is that everybody seems to have access to it.

    I personally would like to think that the sky isn’t falling after all. (It rarely does you know)

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  9. swan (659 comments) says:

    http://offsettingbehaviour.blogspot.co.nz/2013/04/our-manufactured-drinking-crisis.html

    For information on over 18 year olds – similar results

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  10. nasska (10,835 comments) says:

    Pack of bloody wowsers. DPF has gone back twelve years….how far further into antiquity is he expected to chart before you lot will accept that there is a downward trend?

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  11. Michael (898 comments) says:

    I’m in my 40s and I remember the lax attitude to age and intoxication that prevailed when I was a teenager. From about age 16 I only got turned away about half the time from bottle stores, by the time I was 19 it probably fell to one time in 10. And I remember going to the nightclub under the MidCity that had a $10 all you can drink promotion. I think the beer and wine was horrible but when you are that age you don’t care.

    When the purchase age was lowered to 18 I noticed a big upswing in requests for ID (I was in my mid 20s at the time) and I was still being asked infrequently up to 5 years ago.

    Enforcement is working well.

    What is not is the drinking culture of some people. People of all ages – the real issue is excessive consumption, not youth consumption.

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  12. James Stephenson (2,078 comments) says:

    People of all ages – the real issue is excessive consumption, not youth consumption.

    Maybe, but I think what that data tells us, is that all the professional wowserism and legislative changes in the world are pissing in the ocean against the power of the next generation thinking that acting like their parents is “uncool”.

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  13. MT_Tinman (3,033 comments) says:

    What a pathetic generation we are raising.

    Of course, the post does not show the proportion of students who blatantly lie when faced with survey questions. ;-)

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  14. ArranH (14 comments) says:

    Nasska, he uses the information to justify a law change that did not occur during the time of the information provided. He could have shown 100 years of statistics but that doesn’t not help prove that a law change was correct or incorrect if the law changed 101 years ago. I’m not saying I’m for or against the law change, just accurate reporting and not displaying one set of data and drawing a conclusion that isn’t showing.

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  15. dime (9,607 comments) says:

    this new generation appear to be a bunch of wimps

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  16. wreck1080 (3,787 comments) says:

    I just find it exceptional that increasing the legal drinking population results in a decline in drinking .

    I’m mistrustful of these figures.

    Surely this absolute opposite effect should have been investigated before releasing results otherwise people will be rightly sceptical.

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  17. Weihana (4,496 comments) says:

    wreck1080 (3,013) Says:
    August 5th, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    I just find it exceptional that increasing the legal drinking population results in a decline in drinking .

    I’m mistrustful of these figures.

    Surely this absolute opposite effect should have been investigated before releasing results otherwise people will be rightly sceptical.

    Have you not considered that perhaps the law has little impact on whether people do or do not drink in the first place?

    Maybe correlation doesn’t prove causation. :-o

    If the government passed a law that said the sky must turn green would you be surprised if the sky didn’t turn green?

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  18. backster (2,109 comments) says:

    I wonder if they studied these guys then http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/9001789/Facebook-party-riot-destroys-house

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  19. Chris2 (765 comments) says:

    I don’t know if there is more drinking by young people, but what I do know is that everone’s drinking goes on for much longer.

    Why is it necessary for bars to be open at 3am in the morning? How many people drinking at that time of morning later go off to work, or are incapable of work because they are still inoxicated.

    It is difficult to believe anyone in a bar at 3am, entered it sober and/or left it sober.

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  20. Weihana (4,496 comments) says:

    Chris2 (626) Says:
    August 5th, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    I don’t know if there is more drinking by young people, but what I do know is that everone’s drinking goes on for much longer.

    Oh just as well you didn’t bother us with the evidence to demonstrate what you “know”. That would be just such a big waste of time.

    Why is it necessary for bars to be open at 3am in the morning? How many people drinking at that time of morning later go off to work, or are incapable of work because they are still inoxicated.

    It is difficult to believe anyone in a bar at 3am entered it sober and/or left it sober.

    Because some people like to party. Lots of things in life aren’t necessary. How about you mind your own business eh?

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  21. Chris2 (765 comments) says:

    Weihana – one of the things in life that’s not necessary is … you.

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  22. Psycho Milt (2,348 comments) says:

    Why is it necessary for bars to be open at 3am in the morning?

    O, reason not the need! Our basest beggars
    Are in the poorest thing superfluous.
    Allow not nature more than nature needs,
    Man’s life’s as cheap as beast’s.

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  23. bc (1,344 comments) says:

    Where is a link to this study DPF? I would like a bit more detail.

    Having analysed a fair amount of data in my time, one I know is that you can manipulate it to say pretty much anything you want to.

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  24. badmac (139 comments) says:

    Maybe you could try using google. It took almost a whole 20 seconds.

    http://www.fmhs.auckland.ac.nz/faculty/ahrg/
    Methodology and results, including 2002, 2007, 2012.

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  25. Anthony (785 comments) says:

    There will always be idiots but maybe we have matured a bit as country and getting pissed is no longer considered a compulsory rite of passage for young males like it used to be.

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  26. Engineer (67 comments) says:

    Come on David —exercise a bit of logic here.

    The decline does nothing to say that raising the age from 18 to 20 would not be useful.

    The decline could be related to other factors, other than the age.

    Perhaps if the age was set at 20, the decline would likely have been even greater.

    Your argument is analogous to those who say tough sentencing does not work and is not needed, because crime rates have declined over the past couple of decades or more. But that is a worthless argument because if sentencing was tough, then crime rates may have declined by two, three times as much —who knows?

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  27. Psycho Milt (2,348 comments) says:

    That’s certainly true. But if we’re applying logic here, what would be the logic in proposing to bar 18- and 19-year-olds from purchasing alcohol, when the evidence to hand says teen alcohol consumption is actually declining?

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  28. Left Right and Centre (2,861 comments) says:

    Michael 10:57 am 40s now… mid 20s in 1999. 25 plus 14 = 39? 27 + 14 =41?

    You’d have to be in your very early 40s.

    But yeah.. I remember the days before bouncers gave a shit about ID. And then when it dropped to 18… they checked everyone. Maybe no-one really cared about 18-19 year olds in bars/ clubs before 1999?

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  29. Engineer (67 comments) says:

    But if we’re applying logic here, what would be the logic in proposing to bar 18- and 19-year-olds from purchasing alcohol, when the evidence to hand says teen alcohol consumption is actually declining?

    That if the drinking age was raised to 20, the decline may be even more dramatic – perhaps even two or three times what has been observed – that is a possibility.

    How do you know that the decline could be due to other factors, and have nothing to do with age. Without knowing the age affect on drinking rates among youth, one can say nothing about the wisdom of an 18 year limit vs a 20 year limit.

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