News & Blog

Reporting and Analytics expose the dark side of the drink
17 Dec, 2010 - Lachlan James

Over the past two weeks, in our blog posts It’s Beer O’clock Again and Finding the World’s Best Beer, we’ve used reporting and analytics and a variety of data visualization options to analyze and display a range of metrics regarding beer.

It’s been fun. Until now. Now, we’ve discovered the dark side of drinking. That’s right. Apparently there’s a downside to guzzling the good stuff with careless abandon. It’s ok – we were shocked too.

We felt obligated by a duty of care to you – our fellow beer lovers and wine swillers – to share our results.

But we know what you’re thinking – what were these results? And can drinking, when it feels oh-so-right, really have an adverse affect on your health? Let’s take a look.


Alcohol related metrics by country

The map below has an interactive drop down menu allowing you to view alcohol consumption (average litres of pure alcohol consumed per person per year), alcohol related deaths (per thousand of population per year), as well as the number of heavy female and male drinkers, per country.




Alcohol consumption per country

Australians like a drink. We all know that. But, the reputation is probably a little overblown, with France, Ireland, Estonia and the Czech Republic clearly leading the way.

But these are the average alcohol consumption rates. Does everyone within a certain country follow the same drinking pattern? Are heavy female and male drinkers located in the same country?


Heavy female and male drinkers per country

Interesting. Ireland and the Czech Republic lead the way again, topping the heavy drinking stakes in both the male and female categories, taking out the trifecta.

The big mover and shaker in this data-set is Mozambique. The statistics on Mozambique suggest that as a nation, their alcohol consumption is modest, but when they do drink – they go hard (both male and female). Perhaps it’s a case of extremes if you live in Mozambique – you either don’t drink at all, or you can’t contain yourself?

But do the guys set the drinking culture or the girls? Hard to tell. We might need more data, a different visualization, or both… we’ll address that question on a different occasion.


Alcohol related deaths per country

Here’s the crucial question. Are our thirsty friends from Mozambique, and the boozy nations of Ireland, Czech Republic, France and Estonia at risk? Is there a relationship between alcohol consumption and alcohol related deaths? Maybe.

Denmark is shown as a fairly strong drinking nation, and this is reflected in their alcohol related deaths per capita, as with Russia. However, Ireland – a leader in alcohol consumption – has a comparatively low death rate. Additionally, El Salvidor didn’t make a blip on the alcohol consumption map, but lead the alcohol related deaths category with 22.8 per thousand of population per year.

Perhaps the low consumption rates and high death rates in El Salvidor are reflective of the quality of its healthcare systems? It’s not clear. And neither is the association between alcohol consumption and death rates. So let’s take a closer/more appropriate look.


Alcohol consumption and death rates

Using a scatter plot, you can see the correlation more clearly.



Whilst there is some variation, once the alcohol consumption moves past 5 on the horizontal axis, the death rates on the vertical axis noticeably increase. Bad news.

But it’s not all doom and gloom.


Alcohol consumption over time

Alcohol consumption rates have changed over time. Using data from the World Health Organization (http://apps.who.int/globalatlas/default.asp), we can analyze the adult (15+) per capita alcohol consumption in litres worldwide and per country.




Alcohol consumption worldwide is becoming normalized. Heavy drinking is on the slide, with the world average slowly rising, suggesting the development of a more responsible and moderate global attitude towards drinking.

But what about individual countries? Are the world’s major alcohol consumers taking heed of the correlation between alcohol consumption and alcohol related deaths?

Well, France is; and Ireland isn’t.

France was leading the world and partying (or commiserating) hard in the 1960s. Whilst it appears that most Frenchmen still like to accompany their mid afternoon French Sticks with a Shiraz (or two), their alcohol consumption has dropped significantly.

Conversely, Ireland has come from a lower base, with its alcohol levels steadily rising over the past several decades.


So what, we can’t drink?

No. Just drink responsibly. And if on holiday in France, Ireland, Estonia the Czech Republic and certain parts of Mozambique; don’t ask the locals for directions. And if you live there? Stay off the roads after midday.

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