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Total alcohol consumption per capita (Indicator 3)
This indicator is part of Target (2): At least a 10 per cent reduction in harmful alcohol consumption.
Alcohol consumption may be divided into two main parts. The first is what is often called “recorded consumption”, that is, consumption recorded by way of alcohol sales at shops, off-licences, cafes, restaurants, bars etc. The second part includes unrecorded consumption derived from a combination of: legal tourist imports and home distillation, legal or illegal border trading, illegal import (smuggling) and illegal home distillation (illicit distilling).
Here we present the sum of recorded alcohol consumption, divided by the number of individuals aged 15+.
Total sales of alcohol per person aged 15+ were relatively stable until the middle of the 1990s but increased substantially up to 2008. This may be mainly attributed to the rise in wine sales. Sales of beer and spirits have somewhat declined over the last few years. There was an overall decline from 2008 to 2014 but since then, alcohol consumption has been stable.
Total sales in 2020 were higher than in previous years. This was most likely due to interventions to limit the spread of COVID-19. Travelling restrictions, especially, resulted in a shift in sales of alcohol from international to domestic sales. However, results from the population-based Norwegian Survey of Alcohol, Tobacco and Drugs, suggest no change in self-reported alcohol consumption over time.
Figure 1. Annual alcohol sales per person aged 15+, in litres of pure alcohol. Source: Statistics on alcohol sales, Statistics Norway. (Statistics Norway did not publish sales figures for 1998.)
Data source: Alcohol sales
The data source for this indicator is the Statistics on alcohol sales compiled by Statistics Norway. A description and definitions follow below.
The statistics compiled by Statistics Norway include recorded sales of alcohol, and are based on data from the Directorate of Customs and Excise, as well as recorded imports.
- Average reported alcohol sales per person aged 15+, in litres of pure alcohol (alcohol litres) per year.
Unrecorded consumption in the form of home-distilled alcohol, tourist imports, duty-free sales or smuggled goods is not included.
Data source: Norwegian Survey of Alcohol, Tobacco and Drugs
Due to the changes in alcohol sales during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Norwegian Survey of Alcohol, Tobacco and Drugs will serve as an additional data source for this indicator.
The Norwegian Survey of Alcohol, Tobacco and Drugs is a telephone-based nationwide survey of alcohol, tobacco and drug use among individuals aged 16-79, and undertaken by Statistics Norway on behalf of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. The survey is conducted on a representative sample of 3 700 people who are selected from the National Population Register and interviewed via telephone, after having received an information letter regarding the survey. The average response rate for the survey years 2012-2020 was 58 per cent. The survey enables trends in alcohol use to be traced back to 2012.
National adaptation to global indicators
WHO’s definition of the indicator
Indicator 3. Total (recorded and unrecorded) alcohol per capita (aged 15+ years old) consumption within a calendar year in litres of pure alcohol, as appropriate, within the national context.
WHO’s indicator applies to both recorded and unrecorded total alcohol consumption per capita per year. The Norwegian indicator only covers recorded alcohol consumption.