December 31, 2012 Leave a comment
New Year’s Eve seems a good night for this post. So, I’m reading a terrific book about drug policy by Mark Kleimann and, not surprisingly, there’s a lot of discussion about lessons from how we regulate (and don’t regulate) alcohol. One factoid really struck me was the number of non-drinkers. Guess what percent of Americans has less than 1 drink a month. Okay. What if I told you it’s over fifty percent. Yep. I was completely surprised by that. To think my near tea-totaling ways are actually in a majority (at least according to the drinkyr variable in the 2004 GSS). A full 1/5th of Americans basically don’t drink at all. Also turns out that alcohol consumption is an almost perfect example of the Pareto principle– 20% of drinkers account for 80% of consumption. Which, of course, means that all the advertising, as well as the policy-lobbying efforts of the alcohol industry is really focused on just a slim slice of the population.
Here’s a cool chart of alcohol consumption using the handy do-it-yourself GSS site: