Special Report

States Drinking the Most Beer

3. Montana
> Annual per capita consumption:
> Pct. chg. in alcohol consumption 2003-2013: 4.0% (21st largest increase)
> Pct. binge drinkers:20.8% (6th highest)
> Median household income: $46,972 (15th lowest)

Residents in the Mountain region of the United States drank an average of 30.6 gallons of beer per capita, higher than the national average of 27.7 gallons. Montana’s drinking-age residents drank even more, consuming an average of 40.5 gallons of beer per person annually. The high prevalence of beer consumption in Montana likely contributed to higher rates of drunk driving. While less than 2% of American adults said they had driven after drinking excessively in the past 30 days, 3.4% of Montana residents reported doing so, the highest percentage nationwide. Perhaps as a result, there were 9.4 deaths per 100,000 people from alcohol-related car crashes, second only to North Dakota.

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2. New Hampshire
> Annual per capita consumption:
> Pct. chg. in alcohol consumption 2003-2013: 7.3% (12th largest increase)
> Pct. binge drinkers:16.8% (24th highest)
> Median household income: $64,230 (7th highest)

New Hampshire’s beer consumption was the highest in the nation in 2009, 2010, and 2011. While consumption has fallen slightly from those years, residents drank an average of 42.2 gallons of beer in 2013, second only to North Dakota. In contrast, New England residents consumed an average of 31 gallons of beer that year. The state had the highest alcohol intake from wine, and by far the highest intake from spirits. This may not accurately reflect drinking habits among long-term residents, as New Hampshire’s low taxes and cheap alcohol attract many Americans from other states. Binge drinking was roughly in line with the national average, unlike most other states drinking the most beer. Binge drinking is strongly associated with negative health outcomes, and the low prevalence in New Hampshire compared to other states where people drink the most beer may partly explain the relatively good health among residents. Nearly 22% of residents reported excellent health, the fifth highest percentage nationwide. The state also had the lowest poverty rate in the country at 8.7%.

1. North Dakota
> Annual per capita consumption:
> Pct. chg. in alcohol consumption 2003-2013: 16.3% (2nd largest increase)
> Pct. binge drinkers:23.8% (the highest)
> Median household income: $55,759 (19th highest)

North Dakota led the nation for beer drinking, with each drinking-age resident consuming 43.6 gallons in 2013 on average, an increase of 1.6 gallons from 2009, the second largest such increase. The state’s beer consumption was the highest in the West North Central region of the country, which at 33.5 gallons was itself the highest average consumption level compared to the nine other regions reviewed. North Dakota also led the nation in binge drinking, with nearly 24% of adults reporting such excessive alcohol consumption.

While the number of jobs in North Dakota dropped by 5,300 from April through May this year, economic factors can partly account for the state’s high beer consumption level. Not only was the cost of living nearly 10% lower than the national average, but also incomes in the state have risen dramatically in recent years as a result of the regional oil boom. In addition, the energy sector has attracted especially men, who are far more likely than women to binge drink. There were more than 11 persons per 100,000 people killed in an alcohol-related car crash, the highest rate in the country.

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