When comparing countries of vastly different sizes, it’s worth analyzing on a per capita (per person) basis. Looking at alcohol consumption trends is no different. This post shows a timeline of alcohol consumption per capita for several countries.
Comparing these five select countries as well as others not shown, France and Germany are among the highest consumers of alcohol on a per capita basis in the world. Several other eastern European nations top them (including Russia and Czech Republic), though their rates of consumption are still relatively high.
Surprisingly, the United States actually has one of the lowest consumption per capita rates in the developed world. The 1920s featured Prohibition which implemented a ban on the manufacture and sale of alcohol. The act was wildly unpopular and eventually repealed in 1934. Since then consumption has ticked upwards, though not as much as other countries.
Timeline of Alcohol Consumption per Capita for 5 Select Countries
The 1920s featured decline in consumption per capita for most countries. Homeland policies enacted during WWI meant to curb drinking alcohol were not loosened enough in the following decade. A global pandemic early in the decade also led to less social gatherings where drinking was featured. Specifically for Germany, their economy was in tatters due to the hyperinflation of the German Mark.
A notable exception to this is France where consumption drastically increased in the 1920s. The country was set by a euphoria after winning “The Great War”. Many immigrants had entered the country to help fight and/or work in the war economy. Afterwards they stayed and helps contribute to what some pundits called France’s “drunkest generation”.
Since the 1970s-1980s most countries have seen a decline in their alcohol consumption per capita. It’s around this time that studies into the negative effects of alcohol became more widely published and distributed. Consumption of alcohol has a number of deleterious effects. This is especially true when “binge” consuming, or having and excess amount of alcohol in one sitting.
Despite the general trend of lower alcohol consumption, binge drinking is actually noted to be on the rise in some areas. This is especially true among young people, where the negative effects can prove disastrous.
Source: Our World in Data