Those zany Millennials
In an analysis of four million people between 1948 and 2014 across 68 international studies, the team found a clear and dramatic downturn in the male-to-female ratio of alcohol use. Men born between 1891 and 1910 were 2.2 times as likely as women to drink alcohol; among people born between 1991 and 2000, that ratio fell to 1.1. (Alcohol abuse in men has not significantly decreased over time, so the study implies that rates among women have risen.)
The same applies not just to alcohol intake, but in alcohol-related harm (alcohol misuse or dependence, alcohol-related problems and treatments, et cetera). A century ago, men were three times as likely as women to have a drinking problem. Among people born in the 1990s, the odds are essentially the same for men and women.
The closure of this alcohol gap seems to be a result of other gaps closing, like the percentage of women working outside the home—an unintended negative health consequence of social progress. “When women improve their education, employment, and status,” according to Sharon and Richard Wilsnack, “they are likely also to have more opportunities to drink.”
Team Wilsnack has also found that later age at childbearing seems to be driving generational increases in alcohol consumption.