Is there gender convergence in risky drinking when taking birth cohorts into account? Evidence from an Australian national survey 2001–13

Michael Livingston, Sarah Callinan, Paul Dietze, Oliver Stanesby, Emmanuel Kuntsche

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Background and aims: Recent studies have argued that there has been substantial gender convergence in alcohol consumption. However, many of these rely on comparisons of different cohorts and do not adjust for age differences in male and female drinking patterns. We aimed to examine (1) whether the gender gap in risky drinking in Australia narrowed between 2001 and 2013, (2) if the evidence for gender convergence (or divergence) was consistent across age groups and (3) how a cohort-focused analysis of gender convergence compared with an age-focused approach. Design: Repeated cross-sectional data from five waves of the National Drug Strategy Household Survey (2001, 2004, 2007, 2010, 2013). Interaction terms in logistic and linear regression models were used to test for significantly different trends between men and women. Setting: Australia. Participants: Australians aged 14 years and older (n = 125 215) who provided data on alcohol consumption in the National Drug Strategy Household Survey. Measurements: Prevalence of long-term risky drinking (average of 20 g or more per day) and prevalence of risky single occasion drinking (12 or more sessions of 50 g or more). Findings: Gender differences were large for all age groups except adolescents (14–17-year-olds), with men typically reporting levels of drinking at least twice as high as women across the study period. Overall, there was statistically significant gender convergence in alcohol use measures showing a slight decrease in men's drinking and a slight increase in women's drinking. However, when age-specific analyses were conducted gender convergence was only observed for 50–69-year-olds. Conclusions: In Australia, gender convergence in risky drinking since 2001 has been evident only in people aged 50–69 years.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2019-2028
Number of pages10
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Alcohol
  • Australia
  • gender
  • gender convergence
  • surveys
  • trends

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