Equality: Women Are Closing The Gender Drinking Gap

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Guy Bentley Research Associate, Reason Foundation
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Women are drinking more alcohol and closing the historic booze gap with men, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

Men traditionally drink more than women, says NIAAA, but habits are shifting with men slightly moderating the amount of booze they consume while women are moving starkly in the opposite direction.

NIAAA found the percentage of women who had a drink in the last 30 days rose from 44.9 percent to 48.3 percent between 2002 and 2012.

Men, on the other hand, moderated their drinking slightly with 56.1 percent saying they drank alcohol in the last 30 days compared to 57.4 percent who said the same in the decade up to 2012. The drinking gap now stands at 7.8 percentage points.

Women are also closing the gap with men for the average number of days in the past month they drank but are still lagging behind at 7.3 compared to men’s 9.5.

“This study confirms what other recent reports have suggested about changing patterns of alcohol use by men and women in the U.S.,” says NIAAA director George F. Koob.

The study, which was published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, warns the trend is “particularly concerning given that women are at greater risk than men of a variety of alcohol-related health effects, including liver inflammation, cardiovascular disease, neurotoxicity and cancer.”

The NIAAA study used data from the yearly National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which involves around 70,000 people. Other findings in the study include a significant uptick in binge drinking among 18 to 25-year-old women not in college and a significant decrease in the same behavior among their male peers.

The study’s authors do not give any reasons for the closing of the gender drinking gap which “do not appear to be easily explained by recent trends in employment, pregnancy, or marital status, as their analyses controlled for these variables.”

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