Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Tractor Beer Statistics

From The Telegraph:

"Normalising the beer production market and classifying it as alcohol is totally the right thing to do and will boost the health of our population," Yevgeny Bryun, the ministry of health's chief specialist on alcohol and drug abuse, said. "We have been talking about and have wanted such a measure for ages. I take my hat off to the parliament."

The new law would restrict beer sales at night, ban its sale in or close to many public places such as schools, and limit cans and bottles to a maximum size of 0.33 litres...

Regularly rated among the heaviest five drinkers in the world, the Kremlin estimates that Russians consume 32 pints of pure alcohol per capita per year (1), more than double the World Health Organisation's recommended maximum. This appears to have seriously dented population growth.

Russia's population fell by 6.4 million between 1991 and 2009 and the federal statistics agency has predicted that it could fall to less than 127 million from just under 142 million now by 2031 in a worst-case scenario.

Meanwhile, Russian officials estimate that 500,000 people die for alcohol-related reasons every year (2), a state of affairs that has prompted President Dmitry Medvedev to declare the country's drinking problem "a national disaster".

1) OK, beer is approx. 5% alcohol, so 32 pints of pure alcohol = 640 pints of beer, divided by 365.25 days a year = one-and-three-quarter pints of beer a day. Vodka is (say) 40% alcohol, so that also equates to one-sixth of a bottle of vodka a day (assuming they use 0.7 litre bottles?)*. And that is naff all if you are used to it.

2) Eat you heart out Ian Gilmore! If you're going to make up statistics, then GO LARGE! With a population of 142 million and a life expectancy of 63 years, we'd expect around 2.25 million deaths a year, so what they are saying is that nearly one-in-four Russians die for 'alcohol-related reasons'. The feeble tossers who invent fake statistics in the UK are currently only claiming that one-in-forty deaths is alcohol related.

* At least I hope that's right. 32 pints x 0.568 = 18.18 litres; 18.18 litres pure alcohol ÷ 0.4 = 45.4 litres vodka; 45.4 ÷ 0.7 litres/bottle = 65 bottles; 65 ÷ 365 days/year = 0.178 bottles a day (or one-and-a quarter bottles a week, if you find that easier to envisage).


Tim Worstall said...

The problem with Russian booze stats (having lived there for a number of years) is that there's a large portion of the population which simply doesn't drink at all.

And another segment which drinks like fish all the time. That hugely skewed distribution means that the death rate is far higher than it would be in a more equally distributed one.

Mark Wadsworth said...

TW, OK, so let's play them at their own game and assume the 1-in-4 who die of alcohol related causes drink ALL the alcohol, so that's 4 x 1.75 pints a day = 7 pints a day, fairly heavy duty but not off-the-Richter-scale.

I doubt sorely whether that level of drinking would kill ALL of those heavy-ish drinkers.

Tim Worstall said...

Erm, 7 pints a day over 50 years? Yes , you probably could say that death was alcohol related ......

Mark Wadsworth said...

TW, I could say it of course, but I'm not a doctor and, just going by personal experience and general observation of the world around me, I wouldn't have any particular justification for saying it.

formertory said...

I claim my prize. Slipped decimal point? 65/365 = 0.178 bottles daily, I think. Or about 3 pub doubles.......... Even poor old John Bonham wouldn't have managed 17.8 bottles a day.

(Well, it is 0445 in the morning so I'm a bit slow, but I think you'll find that's right :-) )

65 bottles of vodka a year is trivial for a serious toper.

Mark Wadsworth said...

FT, oops, I have amended (but I said one-sixth further up, which I think is correct).