How much alcohol is consumed each night, worldwide?

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How much alcohol is consumed each night, worldwide?

Hello and thank you for your question about the consumption of alcohol per night, globally. The short answer to your question is that there are 6.2 litres of pure alcohol consumed per person aged 15 years or older, which translates into 13.5 grams of pure alcohol per day. That equates to over 72 million litres of pure alcohol consumed every 24 hours.

METHODOLOGY

In order to answer your question, I started with the figures from the World Health Organization's (WHO) 2014 report on the status of alcohol consumption globally. In order to come up with the figure of pure alcohol consumed in total, I calculated the figure of 13.5 grams multiplied by the total world population aged 15 or older.

I also consulted research from a number of other organizations to come up with figures for how much alcohol of each type (beer, wine, spirits) was consumed daily, where it was consumed, and to determine where consumption was greatest. The location where alcohol is consumed is not tracked on a global level, so I have included data from studies in the U.S. and the U.K. as examples of trends in those countries.

DATA AND OBSERVATIONS

The World Health Organization calculates a figure per person (15 or older) of 13.5ml per day, per person of pure alcohol, as of 2014 (the latest year for which figures are available. The figure of 13.5ml per person is somewhat misleading, because, in fact, only about 2 billion people in the world consume alcohol, with the majority of abstainers coming from the Middle East and North Africa. The heaviest consumers of alcohol are in Russia and Eastern Europe. Binge drinking, however, was most common in Western Europe and North America.

The figure is misleading also because the WHO estimates that nearly 25% of consumption comes from unregulated sources like home distilleries, which are not accounted for in data. 25% is an average worldwide, and for some areas, such as Southeast Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean, the figure rises to 50%, while in countries where alcohol is legally prohibited, the figure is obviously 100%. So, for instance, while European countries in the Eastern Mediterranean may rate lower in the amount of alcohol consumed, the high volume of illicit alcohol keeps the official figure artificially low.

If we look at beverages consumed, there are 187.37 million kilolitres of beer sold annually (as of 2012), 31.68 billion 750ml bottles- about 23.8 billion litres- of wine (as of 2010) and 27 billion litres of spirits.

The WHO and other global reports unfortunately do not track where alcohol is consumed, however, there are studies available that give statistics for individual countries. In America, about 40% of the amount of money spent on alcoholic beverages is spent in bars and restaurants (2012). Unsurprisingly, during economic downturns (e.g., 2008-2010), the balance shifts more towards drinking at home.

Statistics from the U.K. indicate that the trend is going the other way: In 2012, only 34% of alcohol sales were from bars and restaurants, compared to 47% in 2000. Another study of two 'typical' regions in the UK found that 43% of alcohol by volume was consumed in a private setting. That figure comprises both alcohol consumed at home (75% of those surveyed did this regularly) and at friends' homes (63% of survey respondents did this regularly).

SUMMARY

Globally, every person consumes 13.5 grams, in the form of beer, wine and spirits. However, this official figure is assumed to be understated, as it's estimated that nearly a quarter of all alcohol consumed is illicit. In the U.S., consumption of alcohol has increased in recent years, with some regression during times of economic hardship, whereas in the U.K., the trend has been the opposite, with more people choosing to drink in their own homes or those of their friends.

I hope that this information is helpful to you. Thanks again for using Wonder, and please let us know if we can help you with anything else.



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