A new YouGov analysis has found that almost half of the Gen Z youth in Germany live alcohol-free.
More German youth in the 18 to 24 age group live alcohol-free compared to nine other European countries. This is a healthy and positive trend in a country with an entrenched and pervasive pervasive alcohol norm that young generations are now replacing with healthier and more inclusive social norms.

A new YouGov survey shows that almost half of German Gen Z or young adults between 18 to 24 years of age live alcohol-free.

Generation Z (or Gen Z for short) is the demographic cohort succeeding Millennials and preceding Generation Alpha. Researchers and popular media use the mid to late 1990s as starting birth years and the 2010s as ending birth years for Gen Z.

The results of the survey come from the YouGov Global Profiles data that was collected in April 2022. The survey covered 43 countries and included over 1000 uniformly asked questions.

Regarding alcohol, the question asked was: “To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement? I don’t drink alcohol.” Respondents could agree, disagree or choose neither. In Germany, YouGov collected data from 14,152. The results are representative of the German population over 18 years.

  • Almost half (49%) of young Germans between 18 to 24 years said they do not consume alcohol.
    • With this Germany ranks is above the average of 45%.
  • Comparatively, people who are between 45 to 54 years are the demographic group with the lowest number of people living free from alcohol, at 41%.
  • Out of those who are between 25 to 34 years, 47% live alcohol-free.
  • And among both the 45- to 54-year-olds and the over 55-year-olds 46% stay alcohol-free in Germany.
German youth between 18 to 24 years live alcohol-free
As per the latest YouGov analysis, almost half (49%) of young Germans between 18 to 24 years said they do not consume alcohol.

Nine other European countries were examined by the YouGov analysis. Comparatively to these other European countries, more German youth between 18 to 24 years lived alcohol-free.

  1. In the United Kingdom, 43% of Gen Z live alcohol-free.
  2. In France, 39% of 18- to 24-year-olds live alcohol-free.
  3. In Austria and Bulgaria, 37% of young people live alcohol-free.
  4. In Poland, 33% of 18- to 24-year-olds live alcohol-free.
  5. In Belgium, 32% of young people live alcohol-free.
  6. In Switzerland and Portugal, only 30% of youth in this age group are alcohol-free.

A trend of young people being sober and sober curious

Previously, the alcohol survey of the Federal Centre for Health Education (BZgA) for 2021 was already showing a trend among young people in Germany reducing alcohol consumption. In 2019, only 8.7% of 12- to 17-year-olds said they were consuming alcohol regularly (at least once a week). This figure remained the same in 2021. Comparatively in 2004, 21.2% in this age group said they were using alcohol regularly.

This indicates a clear trend of young Germans being increasingly sober and sober curious.

During COVID-19 alcohol availability declined in Germany due to closure or restrictions on bars, pubs, and restaurants. Therefore, sales of beer – one of the most consumed types of alcohol in Germany – reduced in both 2020 and 2021.

The reduced alcohol availability during the COVID-19 pandemic led to fewer people, specifically young people, being intoxicated with alcohol. The Federal Statistical Office recently reported that significantly fewer people came to a hospital in the first year of the pandemic due to alcohol harm. This positive trend was even more prominent among adolescents.

Germany still needs to improve alcohol policy solutions

This is not to say there is no alcohol harm in Germany among young people. The BZgA study in 2021 found that among young adults aged 18 to 25 years almost a third (32%) reported using alcohol regularly in the past 12 months. 16.7% were consuming alcohol on average above the threshold for low-risk use. About one in three (32.7%) had been intoxicated with alcohol in the past month.

In fact, the annual review of addiction issues published in the DHS Yearbook for 2022 reports that the high prevalence of alcohol use is still a problem in Germany. 

  • Germany ranks on 13th place among 44 countries for alcohol use according to statistics from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
    • This means Germany’s alcohol use among those over the age of 15 years is above the average of the OECD countries per citizen. 
  • There were 62,000 deaths (19,000 women and 43,000 men) caused by alcohol in Germany in 2016. 
    • This corresponds to 4% of all deaths among women and 9.9% of all deaths among men.

This is why it is imperative that the German government invests in proven alcohol policy solutions. Recently Germany has begun to take some steps to address the problem, starting with the hearing held by the German parliamentary health committee last year. 

The hearing concluded that there are evidence-based, cost-effective policy solutions available to reduce and prevent alcohol harm in Germany. What is lacking is political will in Germany and the EU to advance action to solve these problems.

Since then the new German coalition government in their governing contract committed to addressing alcohol harm. Then this year, the new drug policy commissioner of the German government proposed to raise the legal age for alcohol products with less than 1.2% distilled alcohol from the current 16 years or 18 years. If approved this would be an effective policy improvement to reduce the massive harm caused to children and youth by alcohol products.


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: “Almost half of young adults do not drink alcohol

YouGov: “Under European GenZ, Germans drink alcohol the least