Send to

Choose Destination
Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2007 Oct;31(10):1714-22. Epub 2007 Jul 25.

Distribution of alcohol consumption and expenditures and the impact of improved measurement on coverage of alcohol sales in the 2000 National Alcohol Survey.

Author information

Alcohol Research Group, Public Health Institute, Emeryville, Calilfornia 94608, USA.



To validate improved survey estimates of alcohol volume and new expenditures questions, these measures were aggregated and evaluated through comparison to sales data. Using the new measures, we examined their distributions by estimating the proportion of mean intake, heavy drinking days, and alcohol expenditures among drinkers grouped by volume.


The 2000 National Alcohol Survey is a random digit dialed telephone survey of the United States with 7,612 respondents including 323 who were recontacted for drink ethanol measurement. Among drinkers, we utilized improved drink ethanol content estimates and beverage-specific graduated frequency measures to assess alcohol consumption and past month beverage-specific spending reports to estimate expenditures.


Coverage of alcohol sales by the new measures was estimated to be 52.3% for consumption and 59.3% for expenditures. Coverage was best for wine at 92.1% of sales, but improved most for spirits from 37.2% to 55.2%, when empirical drink ethanol content was applied. Distribution estimates showed that the top 10% of drinkers drank 55.3% of the total alcohol consumed, accounted for 61.6% of all 5+ and nearly 80% of all 12+ drinking days. Spirits consumption was the most concentrated with the top decile consuming 62.9% of the total for this beverage. This decile accounted for 33% of total expenditures, even though its mean expenditure per drink was considerably lower ($0.79) than the bottom 50% of drinkers ($4.75).


The distributions of mean alcohol intake and heavy drinking days are highly concentrated in the U.S. population. Lower expenditures per drink by the heaviest drinkers suggest substantial downward quality substitution, drinking in cheaper contexts or other bargain pricing strategies. Empirical drink ethanol estimates improved survey coverage of sales particularly for spirits, but significant under-coverage remains, highlighting need for further self-report measurement improvement.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center