Do you drink more than an average Australian?
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Do you drink more than an average Australian?

If science finally manages to come through with that time machine and you head back to 1970s Australia, whatever you do, don’t get in a shout with someone at the pub.

All indications are they will drink you under the table.

Certainly, compared to today, people in 1970s Australia drank so much beer it’s hard to envisage how anything got done.

We drink around 72 per cent as much as alcohol per person as we did back then, but only 40 per cent as much beer.

What we do have now is an increased love of wine (we even drink it from bottles rather than casks).

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But that average assumes everyone in Australia over the age of 15 likes a drink. The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates 21 per cent of that population (including hopefully a lot of the 15-17 year olds) are teetotallers.

If you’re someone for whom that average still reads alarmingly low, you might prefer to compare yourself to 1975 Australia, particularly on the beer front.

Which is about two stubbies plus a glass of something heavier every day.

So, are Australians really ‘big drinkers’, on a global scale?

Well, pretty big, but not world beaters.

According to World Health Organisation data from back in 2009 (when we drank more than we do today), Australia placed 22nd out of 190 countries measured for average alcohol consumption.

That data indicated you shouldn't go getting in a shout with any Estonians at the pub either.

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ABS statistics released this week showed a decrease in alcohol consumption in 2017 to the lowest level since 1962.

That marks a return to trend following an uptick in apparent alcohol consumption in 2016.

The stats indicate the average Australian drank 9.39 litres of pure alcohol last year – down from 9.66 litres in 2016 and 10.76 litres a decade ago.

The figures do not account for factors such as storage, wastage or use in cooking, nor the prevalence of non-drinkers.

The ABS estimated that among people who actually drink, the average consumption of alcohol was 12 litres per person in 2017.

With Michael Koziol