Special Report

The Drunkest (and Driest) Cities in America

Source: Thinkstock

15. Sheboygan, WI
> Pct. adults drinking to excess: 23.0%
> Pct. driving deaths involving alcohol: 27.1%
> Est. number of bars: 54
> Median household income: $57,047

Excessive drinking is more common in Sheboygan, Wisconsin than in all but 14 other U.S. metro areas. This high excessive drinking rate may be fueled in part by area residents’ widespread access to drinking establishments. There are about 4.7 bars in the metro area for every 10,000 residents, more than in all but half a dozen U.S. metros and well more than triple the national concentration of 1.3 bars per 10,000 Americans.

The typical household in Sheboygan has an income of $57,047, slightly higher than both the national and state median household income. With higher incomes come other positive health outcomes that can offset the negative health effects of excessive alcohol consumption. Lincoln’s median household income is roughly in line with the state. Just 12.7% of adults in the metro area report fair or poor health, a lower share than in all but a few metro areas.

Source: Thinkstock

14. Dubuque, IA
> Pct. adults drinking to excess: 23.0%
> Pct. driving deaths involving alcohol: 40.0%
> Est. number of bars: 33
> Median household income: $58,487

Across the Dubuque metro area, 23% of adults drink excessively, the second highest share of any Iowa metro area and well above the 18.0% national share. As is the case in many cities with high excessive drinking rates, deadly car accidents in Dubuque have a greater chance of being related to alcohol. Of all deadly accidents in the metro area, 40% involve alcohol, one of the largest such shares in the country and well above the comparable 25.4% share of deadly accidents statewide.

Source: Thinkstock

13. Iowa City, IA
> Pct. adults drinking to excess: 23.1%
> Pct. driving deaths involving alcohol: 17.7%
> Est. number of bars: 45
> Median household income: $55,332

The excessive drinking rate in Iowa City exceeds the excessive drinking rate in all but a dozen other U.S. cities. Excessive drinking is unhealthy and can impair judgement, leading to higher rates of certain risky behaviors.

However, across the metro area’s population, excessive drinking does not appear to be taking a significant toll. For example, only 17.7% of deadly car accidents in Iowa City involve alcohol, and only 11.1% of metro area adults report being in fair or poor health, each among the smallest such shares in the country.

Source: Thinkstock

12. Fond du Lac, WI
> Pct. adults drinking to excess: 23.5%
> Pct. driving deaths involving alcohol: 27.0%
> Est. number of bars: 40
> Median household income: $57,620

Fond du Lac is one of the heaviest drinking metro areas in the second heaviest drinking state. Some 23.5% of metro area adults drink excessively, well above the national excessive drinking rate of 18.0%. Excessive drinking is even more common across Wisconsin as a whole, with 24.5% of adults in the state either binge or heavily drink.

As is the case in most cities on this list, Fond du Lac has a high concentration of bars. Across the metro area, there are 3.9 bars for every 10,000 people, triple the national concentration of 1.3 bars per 10,000 people.

Source: Jeff Keen / Wikimedia Commons

11. Mankato-North Mankato, MN
> Pct. adults drinking to excess: 23.6%
> Pct. driving deaths involving alcohol: 18.0%
> Est. number of bars: 21
> Median household income: $52,497

Mankato-North Mankato is one of five metro areas in Minnesota to rank among the heaviest drinking in the United States. Binge and heavy drinking is relatively common on college campuses, and home to Minnesota State, the Mankato metro area has a disproportionately large share of students. Some 17.4% of metro area adults are enrolled in college or graduate school, a far higher share than the 7.0% of Americans.