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Article

Decline in alcohol consumption in Russia: Collectivity or polarisation?

Drug and Alcohol Review. 2021. Vol. 40. No. 3. P. 481-488.

Introduction and Aims: Sales and survey data have shown a decline in alcohol consumption in Russia since 2007. This study examines whether this decline is consistent across lighter and heavier drinkers in line with the theory of the collectivity of drinking cultures. Design and Methods: Data was collected through annual nationally representative surveys conducted between 2006 and 2018 of 33,109 individuals aged 18–85. We estimated generalized linear regression with Gamma distribution and used log alcohol volume consumed during the previous 30 days as the dependent variable for five percentile groups: heavy drinkers (95th), near heavy drinkers (90th), moderate drinkers (80th), light drinkers (60th for men and 70th for women) and non-drinkers. Dummy variables for years, percentile groups and their interactions were used as independent variables. The controls were age, education, income, body weight, marital status, household demographic structure, residence, ethnicity and regional climate. Results: Reductions in alcohol consumption were observed in all percentiles, but the scale of change was proportionally smaller among heavier drinkers than among lighter drinkers. However, consumption fell by a smaller amount among lighter drinkers than among heavier drinkers. Results of the regression analysis fit with the descriptive statistics. Interactions between the time period and the percentile groups were significant after 2010. Trends were similar for both genders. Discussion and Conclusions: Downward trends across percentiles were in the same direction but the magnitude of change varied. Obtained evidence fails to support a polarization and points towards soft collectivity hypothesis in the reduction in drinking in Russia.