Significantly more Brits aged 18-24 drink to get drunk than Americans. However, young Germans do so more than both.
How countries drink differently from each other has always been a hot topic of debate. However, past studies tend to focus on how much alcohol people drink, whilst ignoring everything else. Only looking at quantity of drinking misses a key part of the story: the motives behind drinking.
A recent YouGov Profiles analysis fills this gap. By looking at cross-country data from the US, UK and Germany, we show that there is a big difference in the drinking habits of each country’s youth. When prompted with the statement, “When I drink, I drink to get drunk,” 30 percent of Brits aged 18-24 agree. This compares with just 24 percent of Americans in the same age group. However, a whopping 35 percent of Germans agree. These numbers are compared with the national averages of the entire population in the following chart.
It comes as no surprise that the numbers are quite a bit higher in the younger age groups than in the national average. However, it is interesting to note that the difference between countries is only present in the younger demographic. The national averages are roughly equal across the three groups. This implies that while there are drastically different attitudes toward drinking among different country’s youth, they converge over a person’s life cycle.
When looking at data for all age groups, it is clear how much binge drinking fades with age.
Roughly the same proportion of Americans aged 18-24 drink to get drunk as middle-aged Germans—with the 18-24 US number in between the German numbers for 25-34 and 35-44. Therefore, an American in his or her “peak-binge age” has roughly the same drinking habits as a middle aged German. However, as mentioned above, these numbers converge over time, with all countries in the 55+ demographic being roughly equal.
One should note that hard drinking overall is decreasing throughout young people in Germany, the US, and the UK. When viewed in this context, the data shows young people in Germany may be the last bastion of a youth culture of binge drinking. This would explain why there is a convergence for older people—who were equivalent in their younger age—but a difference for younger people.
At any rate, one thing is clear: young people in Germany today drink to get drunk far more than do young people in the US or the UK.