Those earning more than £40,000 per year are more likely to be regular drinkers than those on average incomes, according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS) Opinions and Lifestyle Survey.

When asked if they had drunk alcohol in the past week, 78.9% of those who earned over £40,000 per year answered yes, compared with 68.5% of those earning between £30,000 and £40,000, 60.5% for £20,000-£30,000, 56.5% for £15,000-£20,000, 51.8% for £10,000-15,000 and 46.5% for below £10,000. The average for the UK was 58%.

Of those working in managerial roles, roles responded yes to the same question, compared with 60.5% for intermediate occupations and 51.2% for routine and manual occupations. Of those working in managerial roles, 34% said they earnt more than £40,000 per year.

These figures suggest there is a clear correlation between drinking and socio-economic status.

The ONS believes that age plays into this correlation. It reported than 20.4% of all respondents said they did not drink, which represents 10.4 million people, and the most common age group to not drink were 25 to 44-year-olds. The age group most likely to drink were the over 65-year-olds.

Teetoalism has increased significantly for those aged between 16 and 44 and declined for those over 65 since 2005. The ONS reported a 5% reduction in the number of teetotal over 65s and a 10% decline for women in that age group in the past 12 years.
The ONS survey estimated 29.2 million people in Great Britain said they drank alcohol.

The percentage of yes responses was highest in England with 57.8%, compared with 53.5% in Scotland and 50.0% in Wales.

However, excessive drinking was most common in Scotland with 37.3% of adults saying they had binge drunk in the past week, compared with 30.4% in Wales and 26.2% in England.

In terms of English regions, the most binge drinking was recorded in the North West where one in three said they had ‘binged’ on their heaviest drinking day. The South East had the lowest binge drinking rate of 18.6%.
Binge drinking was most common among 16 to 24-year-olds and least common for the over 65s.

The Opinion and Lifestyle survey supported other evidence that price is a big factor in people’s drinking habits that contributed to the Scottish government’s decision to introduce minimum unit pricing for alcohol on 1 May.