Convergence in National Alcohol Consumption Patterns: New Global Indicators

from Health Economics at on July 2, 2017 at 04:12PM

With increasing globalisation and interactions between cultures, countries are converging in many ways, including in their consumption patterns. The extent to which this has been the case in alcohol consumption has been the subject of previous studies, but those studies have been limited in scope to a specific region or group of high-income countries or to just one or two types of alcohol. The present study updates earlier findings, covers all countries of the world since 1961, introduces two new summary indicators to capture additional dimensions of the extent of convergence in total alcohol consumption and in its mix of beverages, and distinguishes countries according to whether their alcoholic focus was on wine, beer or spirits in the early 1960s as well as to their geographic region and their real per capita income. Also, for recent years we add expenditure data and compare alcohol with soft drink retail expenditure, and we show what difference it makes when unrecorded alcohol volumes are included as part of total alcohol consumption. The final section summarizes the findings and suggests further research could provide new demand elasticity estimates and use econometrics to explain the varying extents of convergence over time, space and beverage type.