Report: Estonians stand out for largest alcohol consumption in OECD (6)

(Postimees/Scanpix)
5/14/2015 12:31 PM
Category: Society

According to the data presented in OECD's latest economics and public health policy report Tackling Harmful Alcohol Use, Estonia is the largest consumer of pure alcohol of all its member states.

An average adult in an OECD country consumes 9.1 liters of pure alcohol a year - that is considerably more than in other parts of the world. In Estonia, however, the amount is even higher, 12.3 liters per adult in 2012, the report says.

Whereas overall alcohol consumption decreased a little in the OECD between 1992-2012, in Estonia and Russia the consumption grew by nearly 60 percent. So it is unsurprising that Estonia also stands out for the high number of alcohol-related deaths: 21.4 percent of all casualties.

However, the report does note that the so-called "booze cruisers" coming over from other countries – in Estonia's case Finland – may lead to a potential overestimation of consumption in the countries where alcohol is sold, and an underestimation in those the tourist consumers originate from.

Analysts also estimate that around 11 percent of all consumption goes unrecorded in the OECD area, so actual numbers might be even higher.

Whereas about one third of alcohol drunk in OECD countries is from beer and one fourth from wine, Estonians prefer spirits to the latter. But overall, drinking habits are becoming increasingly similar across the developed world.

In the countries examined in detail (Estonia not among them), most alcohol is drunk by the heaviest-drinking 20 percent of the population. Many countries have also seen increasing rates of hazardous and heavy episodic drinking in young people, especially women. Moreover, people take up drinking at increasingly earlier ages.

M. Oll

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