Do the Irish really drink that much?


The Irish do drink about twice as much alcohol per person as the rest of Europe but they also have twice as many abstainers.

Irish men are ~5 times as likely as other Europeans to binge drink once a week:

The Irish have always had the reputation as a drinking culture. But even in a culture where drinking is relatively common, there exists a great deal of variation in actual drinking behavior. Compared to other European countries, the Irish simultaneously have high rates of abstention (23% for adults in Ireland compared to around 10% in most of Western continental Europe) and almost twice as high alcohol consumption per drinker (Ramstedt and Hope, 2005).1 Even in our sample of college students at a prominent Irish University, 5% of the students do not drink at all while a quarter of them consume more than ten drinks per week. Finally, binge drinking defined in the Ramstedt and Hope study as drinking a bottle of wine, 25 centiliters of sprits , or four pints of beer in one sitting (Ramstedt and Hope,2005) is far more common in Ireland compared to the rest of Europe. This study reports that 48% of Irish adult men engage in an episode of binge drinking at least once a week compared to 9% in Germany, 8% in France, and 11% in Italy (Ramstedt and Hope, 2005).

Source: “Why do some Irish drink so much?” from UCD CENTRE FOR ECONOMIC RESEARCH, WORKING PAPER SERIES, April 2008

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