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The Irish do drink about twice as much alcohol per person as the rest of Europe but they also have twice as many abstainers.
Irish men are ~5 times as likely as other Europeans to binge drink once a week:
The Irish have always had the reputation as a drinking culture. But even in a culture where drinking is relatively common, there exists a great deal of variation in actual drinking behavior. Compared to other European countries, the Irish simultaneously have high rates of abstention (23% for adults in Ireland compared to around 10% in most of Western continental Europe) and almost twice as high alcohol consumption per drinker (Ramstedt and Hope, 2005).1 Even in our sample of college students at a prominent Irish University, 5% of the students do not drink at all while a quarter of them consume more than ten drinks per week. Finally, binge drinking defined in the Ramstedt and Hope study as drinking a bottle of wine, 25 centiliters of sprits , or four pints of beer in one sitting (Ramstedt and Hope,2005) is far more common in Ireland compared to the rest of Europe. This study reports that 48% of Irish adult men engage in an episode of binge drinking at least once a week compared to 9% in Germany, 8% in France, and 11% in Italy (Ramstedt and Hope, 2005).
Source: “Why do some Irish drink so much?” from UCD CENTRE FOR ECONOMIC RESEARCH, WORKING PAPER SERIES, April 2008
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