Youthful Abandon

youthful abandonAnother excellent report from the Institute of Alcohol Studies this time looking at why young people are drinking less with the apt title of ‘Youthful abandon’.

Underage drinking has fallen in recent years.  We do not fully understand why.  Yet if we are to maintain this
welcome progress and to take effective action to
support further reductions, it would be useful to
understand its underlying causes.  This report sifts the evidence on the topic to summarise what we do know,
and to scope out promising areas for future research.
It is split into three sections.  The first section draws on national statistics to provide an overview of the key numbers behind the trend.
The second section surveys the academic literature and popular press and collates the full range of explanations that have been offered as to why young people are drinking less.  Rather than just presenting these theories uncritically, we make a preliminary assessment of their plausibility based on the available information.  These are relatively quick judgements, based on limited evidence.
Therefore, even where we are sceptical of  a particular theory, this should not be read as a complete rejection, but merely a remark on the lack of existing support (as we see it) for the hypothesis.
The third section then highlights a number of unresolved questions that we think would be fruitful for further research in order to be more confident in our assessment of the trend.

Their theories centre around these key themes:

  1. Better Legal Enforcement
  2. Rise of New Technology
  3. Changing Social Norms
  4. Happier and more conscientious children
  5. Better parenting
  6. Demographic Shifts
  7. Lower affordability and economic confidence

To read the full report go here (pdf format)

The report was picked up the national press and covered in this article:

Better parenting has led to decline in underage drinking, report finds

Charity says improved family relationships may be one of main reasons fewer young people are trying alcohol | Guardian, UK

Plus this came out the same day:

Everyone’s *not* doing it message offers hope for prevention

Normative education (contrasting how common people think substance use is among their peers with the reality) retains some of its shine, but what seemed the great hope for school- and college-based prevention has become contested territory; part of the problem is that youngsters who drink heavily or use drugs often *do* have friends who do the same | Drug and Alcohol Findings, UK