Drinking in later life and well-being

First published: 10 May 2019 | Last updated: 20 May 2019

Drinking in Later Life and Well-being.

Lead author:

Marina Mendonça

e-mail: m.mendonca@keele.ac.uk

Claus Moser Research Centre

Keele University

Keele, Staffordshire ST5 5BG

Telephone 01782733879


Martin Frisher, Clare Holdsworth (Keele Univeristy)

Cesar de Oliveira, Hynek Pikhart and Nicola Shelton (UCL, London)


This project is based at Keele University

Word count: 258

There are no conflicts of interest.


Aims: This paper will provide fresh insights into the knowledge base about drinking in later life through exploring the relationship between drinking and different measure of well-being, in particular health and measures of social capital. In the UK in recent years older people’s drinking has come under renewed policy interest, not only because of the need to understand drinking in an ageing society, but also that recent population estimates suggest that alcohol consumption per capita in increasing in later life.

Method: Using longitudinal data from waves 0, 1 and 5 of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA), composed by 5550 participants, the analysis explored how excessive drinking (as measured by weekly units consumed and frequency of drinking) was associated with key characteristics of the elderly.


Respondents reporting good health are more likely to be drinkers, as are married men and women, those in employment and those between 50-74 years.
After gender, income is the most important predictor of drinking behaviours. Those in the highest income group drink more and more often.
People aged 75 and over are more likely to drink everyday as are retired people.
Women who live with another person are more likely to drink and to drink everyday.
Men and women who report poor health drink less.
There is a general decrease in drinking behaviours over time.

Conclusions: Our analysis responds to policy concerns through considering how recent changes in alcohol consumption among the elderly are in part due to changes in material circumstances among the elderly.


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Ms Marina Mendonca