Story: Alcohol

Alcohol consumption, 1920–60

Alcohol consumption, 1920–60

This graph shows the per-head consumption of different alcoholic drinks from 1920 to 1960. Throughout the period beer was the dominant drink. Even at the peak of consumption in the 1950s, less than three 750-millilitre bottles of wine and less than two 1.25-litre bottles of gin or whisky were drunk per person per year. The quantity of beer drunk varied considerably over time. As economic conditions worsened, consumption fell. In the depths of the depression in 1933, less than half as much beer was drunk per person than in 1920.  However, after the Second World War, with the alcoholic content of beer reduced and growing affluence, quantities increased. By the late 1950s the level of alcohol consumption was about four times that in the depression. There had also been some increase in wine and spirits consumption.

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Te Ara – The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

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Source: G. T. Bloomfield, New Zealand: a handbook of historical statistics. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1984, pp. 120-121

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How to cite this page:

Jock Phillips, 'Alcohol - The beer swill, 1919–1960', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/graph/40678/alcohol-consumption-1920-60 (accessed 22 October 2017)

Story by Jock Phillips, published 5 Sep 2013, updated 13 Apr 2016