Aims: In Sweden, alcohol abstention has increased over the last 20 years and consumption has recently decreased after a peak in 2004. To understand the dynamics of these trends the present study aims at estimating age, period and cohort (APC) effects on trends in alcohol use prevalence as well as overall and beverage-specific volume of drinking over the last three decades.
Methods: APC analysis of seven cross-sectional surveys from 1979 to 2011 was conducted using cross-classified random effects models (CCREMs) by gender. The nationally representative samples comprised 77,598 respondents aged 16–80 years. Outcome measures were 30-day prevalence of alcohol use and overall as well as beverage-specific alcohol volume.
Results: Trends in prevalence, overall and beverage-specific volume were significantly affected by APC. The period effects of prevalence and overall volume show a small decline after an increase up to the year 2005. Mean beer and wine volume levelled off after a peak in 2005 and volume of spirits drinking decreased constantly. Predicted alcohol prevalence rates in male cohorts (1945–1985) remained generally at the same level, while they declined in post-World War II female generations. Results point to high overall and beverage-specific consumption among cohorts born in the 1940s, 1950s and 1980s.
Conclusions: High consuming cohorts of the 1940–1950s were key in rising consumption up to 2005. Progression through the life course of these cohorts, a decrease in prevalence and drinking volume in successive cohorts seem to have contributed to the recent downward trend in alcohol use in Sweden.