How sober is the Netherlands compared to the rest of Europe?

Some time ago, the European statistical office, Eurostat, published research figures on alcohol consumption among adults in the European Union. This shows that we may have to adjust our image of a sober people: almost half of the Dutch drink alcohol every week. With this we 'beat' all other European participants.

The European study, which compared the statistics of all European countries from 2019, yields several surprising conclusions.

Results of research into alcohol use in Europe in 2019:

  • One in twelve Europeans drinks alcohol on a daily basis, almost 29% drinks weekly, just under 23% monthly and more than a quarter never drink (not all of 2019).
  • The size of the group of daily drinkers is increasing by age category. Where in the 15 to 24 age group only 1% drinks daily, the over-75s take the cake with 16%. On the other hand, the group of non-drinkers is also largest among the oldest age group: more than 40% do not drink alcohol.
  • Men are more likely to drink daily than women (13% versus 4%).

Day winner: Portugal

As far as daily drinking is concerned, Portugal appears to be the leader: one in five Portuguese drinks alcohol every day. Numbers two and three are Spain (13%) and Italy (12.1%). The least daily drinking is in Latvia and Lithuania (1%).

It is striking that Portugal and Spain also have the largest difference between men and women in terms of drinking frequency (in Portugal 33.5% men versus 9.7% women and in Spain 20.2% versus 6.1%). In short, it is mainly the men who drink daily.

The Netherlands leads the way every week

It is not a crazy conclusion that our southern neighbors lead the ranking in terms of daily drinking. Each of these countries has a food culture where a glass of wine completes the meal. That is why the top three in terms of weekly alcohol consumption is all the more surprising: it consists of the Netherlands (47.3%), Luxembourg (43.1%) and Belgium (40.8%). Almost half of the Dutch drink alcohol every week. This makes the Netherlands one of the countries with the most regular drinkers.

Constant, no peaks

Although we are the most regular drinkers, we are not known as binge drinkers. In the category of alcoholic indulgences where more than 60 grams of pure alcohol is consumed per occasion, the 'honour' of first place goes to Denmark. Nearly 38% of the Danes drops sharply at least once a month.

Other facts about alcohol use in Europe:

  • The percentage of monthly drinkers is highest in Lithuania (31.3%), Latvia (31.1%) and Cyprus (30.4%).
  • The group of abstainers is largest in Croatia: over 38% of adults here never drink.
  • In all European countries, the non-drinkers are mainly women. This difference is greatest in Cyprus where 12.8% of the men do not drink versus 44.2% of the women, Bulgaria (16.2% versus 42%) and Italy (21.5% versus 46.7%).

This article is based on research information published on






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