Aims The risk of alcohol-related disorders in first- and second-generation immigrants in Sweden were investigated and compared with the Swedish majority population to assess how alcohol habits are modified over generations in a new society.
Design Register study based on multivariate analyses of demographic data, including information on country of birth, from the Swedish Population and Housing Census of 1985 linked to data on hospital admissions for alcohol-related disorders during 1990–99 in the National Hospital Discharge Register.
Participants The study population consisted of a national cohort of 1.25 million youth born 1968–79 and 1.47 million adults born 1929–65.
Results First- and second-generation immigrants from Finland had higher relative risks (RRs) for hospital admission because of an alcohol-related disorder compared to the Swedish majority population (socio-economic adjusted RRs 2.1 and 1.9, respectively), while first-generation immigrants born in southern Europe, the Middle East and other non-European countries had lower risks. Second-generation immigrants with heritage in southern Europe, the Middle East and other non-European countries had socio-economic adjusted RRs that were higher relative to the first generation immigrants but lower relative to the Swedish majority population. Intercountry adoptees had the highest adjusted RR (2.5).
Conclusions Patterns of alcohol abuse in the country of origin are strong determinants of alcohol-related disorders in first-generation immigrants. The patterns in second-generation immigrants are influenced by parental countries of origin as well as patterns in the majority population. The Finnish minority and intercountry adoptees are of particular concern in prevention.