Aims: This paper aims to compare women's and men's alcohol consumption patterns and alcohol-related problems in New Zealand in 1995 and 2000, by age groups. Secondary aims are to consider the findings in relation to debates on the gender convergence hypothesis regarding the link between gender convergence in alcohol consumption and possible explanations, such as social role convergence and policy changes.
Design: Data were collected in two general population surveys conducted in New Zealand in 1995 (n = 4232) and 2000 (n = 5113) using the same questionnaire.
Measurements: Quantity consumed on a typical drinking occasion, volume of absolute alcohol consumed per annum, proportions drinking 20+ litres per annum, proportion of total consumption consumed in heavy drinking occasions, frequency of consumption, proportion who drink enough to feel drunk at least once a week, proportions reporting three or more alcohol-related problems and attitudes to intoxication.
Findings: Evidence for gender convergence was found across a range of measures of alcohol consumption and alcohol-related problems. In the 20-39-year age group quantities of alcohol consumed on a typical occasion and the related measures of volume, drunkenness and problems all showed convergence. In the groups over 40 years of age convergence occurred in relation to frequency of drinking. In the groups below 20 years, which consumed relatively high quantities and where the differences in consumption between gender groups were relatively small, further convergence did not occur.
Conclusions: Gender convergence took place in New Zealand from 1995 to 2000.