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Logo of bmcphBioMed Centralsearchsubmit a manuscriptregisterthis articleBMC Public Health
BMC Public Health. 2012; 12: 535.
Published online 2012 July 23. doi:  10.1186/1471-2458-12-535
PMCID: PMC3438095

Low level of alcohol drinking among two generations of non-Western immigrants in Oslo: a multi-ethnic comparison



Alcohol drinking is a risk factor for harm and disease. A low level of drinking among non-Western immigrants may lead to less alcohol-related harm and disease. The first aim of this study was to describe frequency of drinking in two generations of immigrants in Oslo, contrasting the result to drinking frequency among ethnic Norwegians. The second aim was to study how frequency of drinking among adult immigrants was associated with social interaction with their own countrymen and ethnic Norwegians, acculturation, age, gender, socioeconomic factors and the Muslim faith.


The Oslo Health Study (HUBRO) was conducted during the period 2000 to 2002 and consisted of three separate surveys: a youth study (15-16-year-olds, a total of 7343 respondents, response rate 88.3%); adult cohorts from 30 to 75 years old (18,770 respondents, response rate 46%); the five largest immigrant groups in Oslo (aged 20–60 years, a total of 3019 respondents, response rate 39.7%). Based on these three surveys, studies of frequency of drinking in the previous year (four categories) were conducted among 15-16-year-olds and their parents’ generation, 30-60-year-old Iranians, Pakistanis, Turks and ethnic Norwegians. A structural equation model with drinking frequency as outcome was established for the adult immigrants.


Adults and youth of ethnic Norwegian background reported more frequent alcohol use than immigrants with backgrounds from Iran, Turkey and Pakistan. Iranians reported a higher drinking frequency than Turks and Pakistanis. In the structural equation model high drinking frequency was associated with high host culture competence and social interaction, while high own culture competence was associated with low drinking frequency. Adult first-generation immigrants with a longer stay in Norway, those of a higher age, and females drank alcohol less frequently, while those with a higher level of education and work participation drank more frequently. Muslim immigrants reported a significantly lower drinking frequency than non-Muslims, although this did not apply to Iranians.


The existence and growth in Western societies of immigrant groups with low-level alcohol consumption contributed to a lower level of consumption at the population level. This may imply reduced drinking and alcohol-related harm and disease even among ethnic Norwegians.

Keywords: Alcohol use, Social interaction, Immigration, Ethnicity, Muslim, Gender

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