In the past 40 years, per capita consumption has increased dramatically in Finland. We study the core changes in drinking culture over this period by age and sex.
We used data from the Finnish Drinking Habit Surveys carried out every 8 years in 1968-2008 (n = 16385, response rates 74-97%). Central measures included share of abstainers, frequency of drinking, amounts drunk per occasion and contexts of drinking (location, company, timing).
Weekly drinking and the frequency of moderate drinking increased among both women and men but proportionately more among women and among respondents aged over 30 years. Amounts drunk per occasion and intoxication increased proportionately more among women and younger respondents. Drinking in home surroundings increased more than drinking in licensed premises, and home drinking increasingly occurred in the company of partners only. Drinking was in all periods heavily concentrated on the weekends and evenings.
Finland has become a wet and permissive drinking culture, and there has been a fundamental cultural shift in women's drinking in particular. Increases in women's drinking have meant that men's drinking has also increasingly been brought to homes, as a part of spouses' shared activities, and pubs have lost their property as masculine strongholds. Intoxication has maintained its important position in the drinking culture, and drinking still takes place primarily in the evenings and weekends. If drinking cultures in present-day low and middle income countries develop similarly, strong increases in alcohol-related harm will follow.
Comment In: Drug Alcohol Rev. 2012 Nov;31(7):829-3023127223