Alcoholic beverages have been a part of social life for millennia, yet societies have always found it difficult to understand or restrain their use. Compared with women throughout the world, men are more likely to drink, consume more alcohol, and cause more problems by doing so. This gender gap is one of the few universal gender differences in human social behavior. Marriage may drive a woman to drink, not because she’s unhappy but because she’s influenced by her husband’s alcohol consumption, new research suggests. And men, on average, drink more than women.

Men, on the other hand, spend less time with their drinking buddies and more with their wives after tying the knot. The study, being presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in Denver, Colo., also reveals divorced men are at particularly high risk of alcohol abuse.

Maryam ShahMaryam Shah has completed her Masters in Clinical Psychology from Foundation University. She has also done Post Graduate Diploma in Clinical Psychology from Fauji Foundation University. Her research work includes Impact of body image on self esteem of adolescence and another research was on Perception of society from an eye of an addict. She had the experience of working as Fauji Foundation Hospital Rwp, Benazir Bhutto Hospital as a psychologist.

Editor: Samreen Masud

Researchers have in the past investigated differences in drinking between single and married people, but the new study is the first to look at alcohol use among different types of unmarried people: the never-married, the divorced and the widowed. Sociologists from the University of Cincinnati, Pennsylvania State University, Rutgers University and the University of Texas at Austin looked at longitudinal data from 5,305 men and women from Wisconsin who answered questionnaires about alcohol use in 1993 and then again 2004. The participants reported how many drinks they consumed in a month and whether they had any history of drinking problems. The researchers combined this quantitative data with 120 qualitative in-depth interviews of never-married, married, divorced and widowed men and women conducted over the past decade.


Previous studies have consistently shown that married people drink less than single people, with the anti-drinking association stronger in married men than women. The new study confirmed this relationship in men, but it showed that married women actually drink more on average than women who were never married, divorced or widowed. “Stable marriage curbs men’s drinking yet is associated with a slightly higher level of alcohol use among women,” the authors wrote in their paper on the study, which is not yet published.