Thursday, 28 July 2011

Again, what crisis?

There is no great crisis in aggregate alcohol consumption stats in New Zealand. Via David Farrar:

Per capita consumption is down since alcohol liberalisation in 1989, though slightly up from 1997.

What about problem drinking? Incrementally up among some age groups; incrementally down among others. From the 2010 Ministry of Social Development's Social Report:

Figure H6.1 Potentially hazardous drinking among drinkers, by age, 1996/1997, 2002/2003, 2006/2007

Problem drinking among the 15-24 age group is no different than it was in 1996 prior to the reduction in the legal alcohol purchase age. Things are up a bit for 25-44 year olds and down a bit for 45-54 year olds, though all those differences are really small.

Ah, but what about marginal and worried-over population sub-groups? From the same report:

Table H6.2 Age-standardised potentially hazardous drinking prevalence rate (%), for adult drinkers, by ethnic group and sex, 1996/1997, 2002/2003, 2006/2007
European/OtherMāoriPacific peoplesAsianTotal 15+
Source: Ministry of Health
Notes: (1) Rates are age-standardised using the WHO world population. (2) People who reported more than one ethnic group are counted once in each group reported.

I'm hard pressed to see any there there. If you want to worry tons about the 1.5 percentage point increase in potentially hazardous drinking among Europeans, why not rejoice instead in the similarly trivial percentage point reductions in similar drinking by those from other ethnic groups?

MSD reported we had the 12th lowest level of alcohol consumption in the 30 OECD countries.

Doug Sellman and his ilk ought get honorary doctorates in marketing for their ability to convert the utter absence of evidence of any growing alcohol problem into a moral crisis justifying imposing large costs on moderate drinkers.

In other news, I LOVE how Blogger's new version makes it dead simple for me to paste tables from elsewhere into draft posts.

1 comment:

  1. Sadly none of this will matter to the great unwashed. I commented on these figures to my workmates (who get their entire life views and opinions from news-bites it seems) and they didn't seem interested in actual figures, their main concern was still the supposed problem drinking behaviours of 16 year olds getting access to pubs with fake IDs. Even though I clearly stated that this data covered folk aged 15-24. It seems these folk, and their ilk, suffer from confirmation bias to an extreme degree.