For as long as people have been keeping track of this sort of thing, men have imbibed more than women. But now, millennial women are evening the score. A brand new study published Tuesday in BMJ Open shows that women born between 1991 and 2000 are now drinking as much as their male cohorts, evening out a gap that was over two-to-one a century ago.
The new analysis looks at millions of people from 68 different international studies. It shows that back in the early 1900s, men were 2.2 times more likely to drink than women, and three times more likely to, as the authors euphemistically put it, "drink alcohol in ways suggestive of problematic use." But by the time we get to people born in the late 1990s (you know, the ones drinking all the wine), those ratios had dropped to almost 1:1.
This particular kind of equality may not be something to celebrate. The study points out that "[a]lcohol use and alcohol use disorders have historically been viewed as a male phenomenon. The present study calls this assumption into question and suggests that young women in particular should be the target of concerted efforts to reduce the impact of substance use and related harms."
Sharon and Richard Wilsnack, experts on gender and alcohol at the University of North Dakota, talked to The Atlantic about the new study. They said that the newfound gender parity in drinking can likely be tied to social improvements for women. "When women improve their education, employment, and status, they are likely also to have more opportunities to drink," they said.