Population drinking and drink driving in Norway and Sweden: an analysis of historical data 1957–89


Correspondence to: Thor Norström, Swedish Institute for Social Research, Stockholm University, S-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden. E-mail: totto@sofi.su.se



Research suggests an association between population drinking and a large number of outcomes. However, driving while under the influence of alcohol (DWI) is conspicuously absent from this list of outcomes. The aim of this study was to estimate the relation between DWI and total consumption of alcohol on annual time–series data for Norway and Sweden.

Design, setting, and measurements

For Norway, we used data on convictions for DWI per 100 000 inhabitants (aged 15–69 years). The DWI proxy for Sweden comprised the proportion (%) of all police-reported traffic accidents with personal injuries where the driver was under the influence of alcohol. Data on total alcohol sales in litres of pure alcohol per inhabitant (aged 15 years and older) were used as proxy for total alcohol consumption. We focused on the period 1957–89, during which the legislation concerning DWI remained unchanged in Norway as well as in Sweden. The statistical analyses were based on co-integrated models.


The estimates of the association between DWI and per capita alcohol consumption were strongly significant in Norway as well as in Sweden. For Norway, the estimated elasticity equalled 2 (P < 0.001) and for Sweden 1.5 (P < 0.001).


In Norway and Sweden, as total population level of alcohol consumption increases or decreases so does the incidence of driving while intoxicated.