Women now drink just as much as men - study

Women are drinking more than they used to (Getty)
Women are drinking more than they used to (Getty)

Women have caught up to men when it comes to knocking back the beers, a new study has found.

Men have historically been more likely to use alcohol, and drink it to excess - but looking at data collected between 1948 and 2014 from around the world, Australian researchers have found evidence the gap has closed.

More than 68 studies published since 1980 were used, 16 of them spanning two decades or more. The drinking habits of more than 4 million people around the world were covered, some born as early as 1981.

"The pooled data showed that the gap between the sexes consistently narrowed across all three categories of any use, problematic use, and associated harms over time," researchers from the University of New South Wales National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre said in a statement.

"Men born between 1891 and 1910 were twice as likely as their female peers to drink alcohol, but this had almost reached parity among those born between 1991 and 2000."

Most of the catching up took place after the mid-1960s.

And it's not because men are drinking less. Although this particular meta-study didn't look at whether rates for men and women were rising or falling on their own, nearly two-thirds of the 68 previous studies indicated it's because women are drinking more than they used to.

"Alcohol use and alcohol use disorders have historically been viewed as a male phenomenon," the researchers note.

"The present study calls this assumption into question and suggests that young women in particular should be the target of concerted efforts to reduce the impact of substance use and related harms."

The findings were published online Tuesday in journal BMJ Open.

A New Zealand study in 2010 found similar results, with convergence between the sexes' drinking habits being driven by increased consumption by women.