Alcohol has long been associated with social events, a way to make friends and a way to take the edge off of life’s many demands, especially in Western culture, but Gen Z is not buying that message anymore.
A shocking new study found that Gen Z is more sober, and they are more sober-curious compared to other generations, according to a U.K. study.
Gen Z is choosing not to drink alcohol
Drinkaware found that Gen Z is not drinking at all or drinking less often than older generations.
The study looked at drinking behaviors of people in 2019 and found that 16- to 25-year-olds were more likely to be sober than people above the age of 25, according to News18. They found that 15% of people in this age range had a firm stance of not drinking alcohol, with 26% of them not drinking any amount, compared to older generations (55- to-74-year-olds).
Gallup found that people ages 35-54 are the most likely generation to drink alcohol (70%), compared to Gen Z (60%) and baby boomers (52%). Meanwhile, the number of Americans who are college-aged who don’t drink any alcohol has gone from 20% to 28% over the past decade. Of the people who do drink, the largest amount of young Europeans — those who are over the legal drinking age and up to 39 years old — only drink once a month (27%), while in the U.S., the largest group drinks only once a week (25%).
Why Gen Z is choosing not to drink alcohol
Experts believe the decrease in youth drinking has come from a couple of different factors. It’s difficult to measure one particular reason that makes this the new phenomenon, but many attribute it to the financial and societal pressures they face, along with the new ideas for a “good night out.”
Senior research fellow Amy Pennay at the Centre for Alcohol Policy Research at La Trobe University, Melbourne, explained that the decline in alcohol consumption in Gen Z is more likely coming from the awareness that the generation has of the health risks associated.
“(The decrease in alcohol consumption is) certainly not happening because of alcohol policy, because all risky practices are going down — drug use, unprotected sex, risky behaviors (like smoking, crime and driving hazardously) — young people are more risk averse in general,” Pennay said, per BBC.
Knowledge and research on this subject is widely available to Gen Z, and Pennay said she believes this impacts their perception. Whether it is through searching the internet, talking with family and friends, or following social media communities like TikTok’s group, #SoberTok, the new generation is constantly surrounded with messaging around the risks regarding alcohol consumption.
Google research found that 41% of Gen Z tends to link drinking and alcohol with “vulnerability,” “anxiety” and “abuse,” from their findings on the subject in 2019.
Income and other factors have made an impact
Experts also saw a decrease in youth alcohol consumption in high-income European countries, the U.S., Australia and New Zealand.
They found that 44% of Gen Z Australians reported they were drinking less during the COVID-19 lockdowns, which was a higher percentage than any other generation during that time, according to the BBC. New Zealand’s rates of binge drinking in Gen Z are going down currently, but have also decreased by more than half between the years of 2001 and 2012.
The Guardian also reported that there isn’t as much of an interest in drinking for Gen Z as there might have been for older generations.