Trends in adolescent alcohol use in the Netherlands, 1992-2015. Differences across sociodemographic groups and links with strict parental rule-setting.

M.E. de Looze, Saskia A F M van Dorsselaer, K. Monshouwer, W.A.M. Vollebergh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


From an international perspective, studying trends in adolescent alcohol use in the Netherlands is an important case study. Whereas Dutch adolescents topped the international rankings of alcohol consumption in the beginning of this century, they are nowadays found more toward the bottom of these rankings. This study examines time trends in adolescent alcohol use between 1992 and 2015, and tests whether these trends differ according to gender, age group, and educational track. Moreover, it examines to what extent the strictness of parental rule-setting can explain the identified trends.

Using data from ten waves of two nationally representative studies with a repeated cross-sectional design, trends were examined for eight different alcohol measures. Interaction analyses were conducted to test for subgroup differences. All analyses were controlled for educational track, family structure, and ethnicity. For the period 2007-2015, trends in parental alcohol-specific rule-setting were included as a predictor of the trends in adolescent alcohol use.

Adolescent alcohol use increased substantially between 1992 and 2003, and decreased sharply thereafter. Trends were stronger for 12- to 15-year olds, compared to the 16-year olds, and for adolescents attending higher educational tracks, compared to adolescents attending lower educational tracks. Overall, gender differences remained constant over time. Between 2007 and 2015, strict parental alcohol-specific rule-setting increased substantially, and this (partly) explained the strong decline in adolescent alcohol use during this period.

This study shows clear time trend changes in alcohol use among Dutch adolescents. The phenomenal decrease in adolescent alcohol use since 2003 appears to be closely related to a radical change in parenting behaviours surrounding the alcohol use of their children. While national prevention programs may have encouraged stricter parenting behaviours, the decline in alcohol use should be interpreted in a broader context of internationally changing sociocultural norms regarding adolescent alcohol use.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)90-101
JournalInternational Journal of Drug Policy
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017


  • Adolescent alcohol use
  • Alcohol-specific parental rules
  • Nationally representative samples
  • Trend analyses


Dive into the research topics of 'Trends in adolescent alcohol use in the Netherlands, 1992-2015. Differences across sociodemographic groups and links with strict parental rule-setting.'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this