Newswise — Previous research on an apparent narrowing of the historical “gender gap” in drinking prevalence found that girls were more likely to start drinking before 18 years of age compared to boys. This research seeks to extend these epidemiological findings by estimating the fine-grained, age-specific incidence of becoming a drinker among 12- to 24-year-old U.S. males and females, and comparing incidence estimates with prevalence proportions.

Researchers examined a population comprised of 12- to-24-year-old, non-institutionalized U.S. civilian residents. The participants were drawn from 12 successive U.S. National Surveys on Drug Use and Health: nationally representative samples drawn each year from 2002 to 2013 and assessed via computer-assisted self-interviews (n~=390,000).

Results confirm that the so-called “gender gap” in the risk of becoming a drinker has narrowed to the point of being no gap at all. In fact, during mid-adolescence the risk of starting to drink is greater for females than for males. That said, a greater prevalence of recently active drinking was subsequently seen in males after 19 years of age.

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