Australian Alcohol Report: A Nation Of Lightweights Or Pissheads?

Australian Alcohol Report: A Nation Of Lightweights Or Pissheads?

Australia fosters (Foster’s?) a reputation as a nation of beer-loving swagmen called Bruce. Along with the Irish and Russians, there are few nations on Earth that can match an Aussie drink-for-drink. However, a new report from the World Health Organisation shows that we’re not nearly as hard drinking as we think we are. In fact, Australia didn’t even crack the top ten. Strewth!

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Measuring alcohol consumption per capita between 2008 and 2010, the World Health Organisation found Belarus to be the hardest-drinking nation on Earth. The average Belarusian puts back a whopping 17.5 litres of pure alcohol every year (that’s a lot of zubrovka!)

The rest of the Top 10 was rounded out by Moldova (16.8 litres), Lithuania (15.4 litres), the Russian Federation (15.1 litres), Romania (14.4 litres), Ukraine (13.9 litres), Andorra (13.8 litres), Hungary (13.3 litres), the Czech Republic and Slovakia (13 litres) and Portugal (12.9 litres).

Australians, meanwhile, drink an average of 12.2 litres of pure alcohol a year. Of that, 44 per cent was beer, 37 per cent wine, 12 per cent spirits and 7 per cent ‘other’. While beer remains the national beverage of choice, consumption has been steadily declining since the 1970s, whereas wine continues to climb.

When divided by gender, Australian males drink 19.7 litres per year, while Australian females stick to a more modest 9.0 litres.

Australian alcohol per capita (15+) consumption, 1961–2010  

If you’re feeling unmanned by this data, take solace in the fact that alcohol abstainers were included in the calculations. When only drinkers are counted, Australia ends up with a total of 14.5 litres. (Belarus, meanwhile, rockets up to 22.1 litres.)

More importantly, we still smashed New Zealand (10.9 litres), Britain (11.6 litres) the USA (9.2 litres), and even Ireland (11.9 litres). Hurrah!

There’s plenty of other interesting facts in WHO’s Global Alcohol Report, including the number of worldwide deaths attributed to alcohol abuse between 2008 and 2010 (3.3 million). On second thought, maybe being a nation of lightweights isn’t such a bad thing.

Global status report on alcohol and health 2014 [WHO]


  • Hi Chris, the WHO ranking might not include Australia in the top ten countries but the tone of this article perfectly summarises the Australian culture when it comes to drinking. From a foreigner perspective it is a kind of childish bragging of someone, or a nation in this case, ability to consume as much alcohol as possible like in a, childish once again, competition. It seems to me that Australians are proud to drink and get drunk. It seems that in Australia getting drunk is the frequently planned main aim of a good evening rather than an occasional unplanned collateral accident while going out and socialising with friends. As a foreigner I would say Hurrah! if I see my country far behind in the ranking. That would mean less people with little dignity and respect for themselves crawling and vomiting in the streets at night; less alcohol-fuelled violence that make many streets off limit at night for families; less emergency services resources devoted to solve self-inflicted symptoms of alcohol abuse. From a foreigner perspective binge drinking is one of the few negative aspects of the Australian culture and it is always surprising how people and even media here in Australia brag about their drinking culture like something to be proud of. There is nothing wrong in drinking moderately and having a good night out but please stop fuelling this childish binge drinking culture.

    • I think the final paragraph made it perfectly clear that the article’s lighthearted “pro drunkard” tone was not meant to be taken seriously.

    • We celebrate having a beer with the mates. We celebrate having the constitution (by both birth right and practice) to keep drinking without making fools of ourselves or getting in strife.

      The first thing that stood out to me about this list was that it was the wrong metric for what we celebrate in Australia. OF COURSE those countries out drink us in terms of pure alcohol. Can you imagine what it is like to live in those countries? They’re as bad as it gets without living in the third world. OF COURSE they outdrink us because if you lived there you’d be drowning yourself in fire water too.

      We aren’t about getting fall down drunk. We’re about getting fall down drunk and still standing. That’s what makes us great drinkers.

      …or at least that’s the idea. Narratives are narratives. Taking them literally is foolishness whether your literalism is put to use in defense or attack.

      The beauty of Australia is that it is a free country of course and nobody is forcing you to join in. Each to their own. I was straight edge (lol) from about 18-22, and I very very very very rarely get blind drunk (in fact its been years). As an Aussie it’s harder for me to get blind drunk though so… 😉

    • I don’t know how we can talk seriously with the high horse in the way…

  • I’m glad to see that overall consumption of alcohol is on the decrease. I’d say this is largely thanks to government funded campaigns such as “Drink Wise” It’s interesting that given the trend we are switching from a predominately beer drink country to a wine drinking country. Guess were becoming a bit more of a classy nation.

    • Before I overreach and expose myself to a devestating counter, is your last sentence genuine or facetious?

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