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New report shows historic shift in young people's alcohol habits in Sweden

Rus och unga 01 bild

13.06.2024 - Compared to previous generations, today's young people believe to a much greater extent that they can have just as much fun without alcohol, and the threshold for abstaining from alcohol is lower. A healthy lifestyle is ranked higher, and alcohol is more often associated with something seedy and unhealthy. This is shown in the report "Rus & unga" from IQ.

These days, schools across Sweden are celebrating the end of the academic year, and a long summer vacation awaits or has just begun. It's a classic time and period when many young people drink alcohol, sometimes beyond their own limits. However, IQ's new report "Rus & unga" shows that far from all young people drink alcohol today, and above all, they drink significantly less than previous generations and have a less intense attitude towards alcohol. Today, young people rather think it is seedy to drink, which one in five in our survey agrees with, compared to just under one in ten who think it is cool.

"We see a shift in behavior that previously seemed set in stone. Today's young people are historic in their approach to alcohol, but they are not always aware of it themselves, which is confirmed by our report," says Mojtaba Ghodsi, CEO of IQ.

Young people throughout the Western world are drinking less. In Sweden, this decline has been evident since the early 2000s, when, for example, 8 out of 10 ninth graders drank alcohol, compared to today when only 4 out of 10 do. The proportion of 15-24-year-olds who feel they don't need alcohol to have fun has increased from every other in 2009 to 3 out of 4 in this year's survey. The report also shows that 6 out of 10 young people aged 15-30 consider themselves to have a sober lifestyle, but without completely abstaining from alcohol.

"For today's young people, alcohol is less loaded. It is less dramatic to abstain from alcohol completely or partially, and fewer seem to need alcohol to have fun," says Mojtaba Ghodsi.

The most common reasons for drinking oneself are "because it tastes good," "it's social," or "to celebrate something." However, it is believed that young people generally drink alcohol "because it's social," "because it makes parties more fun," and "because their friends do it." Two out of three also completely or partially agree with the statement that "many young people drink even though they actually want to abstain."

"Many traditional beliefs persist, while young people actually have a more modern view of and relationship with alcohol. This shows that young people themselves are unaware that they are actually leading a major change in alcohol norms that are becoming different compared to the older generation," says Mojtaba Ghodsi.

Three out of four young people aged 15-30 can imagine completely or partially abstaining from alcohol, and nearly 9 out of 10 aged 15-24 say they can imagine abstaining from alcohol for a year if they get something in return. This is a significant increase compared to 15 years ago when only half were willing to do so.

This is the first part of a report series where IQ takes a closer look at today's young people and their approach to alcohol from several different perspectives.

About the survey The survey, which forms the basis for "Rus & unga," was conducted by Ungdomsbarometern through a digital questionnaire. The results are nationally representative for the public regarding age 15-30 years, and gender. The selection of respondents was made through Norstat and their randomly telephone-recruited nationally representative panel based on SPAR.

Data collection took place between April 19 and May 13, 2024. The number of respondents in the survey is 1,154.

Read more about the results in the attached pdf.

Download PDF • 2.62MB

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