A survey from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln shows college students’ drinking rates dropped during the pandemic.
The study was published in an academic journal in March and showed that the influx of students moving back in with their parents contributed to a substantial drop in college students’ alcohol use.
“This speaks to the role of social environment in college student drinking,” lead researcher Anna Jaffe, assistant professor of psychology at UNL, said in a press release.
The research team compared the pandemic’s spring months to previous years’ spring months — using annual data on student drinking patterns. In a survey of nearly 1,400 college students, the number of drinks consumed in a single social sitting fell by 28%.
“We saw differences based on whether or not students moved related to the pandemic,” Jaffe said. “Those who did move decreased their drinking 49%, while those who did not move decreased their drinking by 21%, which is still quite substantial.”
These findings show that living off-campus, often with parents, could be a protective factor against heavy drinking.
This information is important, Jaffe said, because college students tend to overestimate how much their peers drink and, in turn, feel pressured to drink more themselves.