Youth Drinking in Transition

This report explores the drinking habits of young adults in Great Britain. It seeks to contribute evidence to explain some of the shifting trends in these drinking habits as reported in the official statistics – including the decline in binge drinking and rise in teetotalism. And it looks in particular at the drinking habits of students, those in work, and those not in education, employment or training (NEETs), as three major case studies.

The report presents the findings of a major quantitative and qualitative research process, including new analysis of the Understanding Society Survey, Demos-led youth focus groups, Westminster policy-roundtables, and two new surveys of students and young workers.

Key findings of the report include:

  • Despite an overall declining trend in youth alcohol consumption, harmful drinking remains rife in both offices and campuses.
  • Conducting for the first time analysis of the drinking habits of workers across different occupations – Demos finds that manual jobs (construction and manufacturing) have the strongest excessive drinking cultures, followed by services (law, finance and communications). The lowest rates of binge drinking were found in public services (police, education and health).
    Manual workers and young professionals are up to twice as likely to binge drink than public sector employees. A quarter of young workers cited ‘stress relief’ as a reason for their drinking.
  • Young people using social media were also found to be more likely to be heavier drinkers.
  • Despite growing awareness of health risks and progress from Government and industry alike, enduring peer pressure and social norms mean many young people continue to see binge drinking as a ‘rite of passage’ at university, and a critical part of working life.
  • New Demos analysis also suggests that Government statistics could be underestimating number of 16-24 year-olds drinking to excess by as much as 600,000 (10pp).

The report can be read in full here.