Article Text

Download PDFPDF
An age–period–cohort analysis of cannabis use prevalence and frequency in Germany, 1990–2009
  1. Daniela Piontek1,
  2. Ludwig Kraus1,
  3. Alexander Pabst1,
  4. Stéphane Legleye2,3,4
  1. 1Epidemiological Research Department, IFT Institut für Therapieforschung, Munich (Germany), München, Germany
  2. 2Institut national des études démographiques (INED), Paris, France
  3. 3Inserm, Paris, France
  4. 4Univ Paris-Sudss and Univ Paris Descartes, Paris, France
  1. Correspondence to Dr Daniela Piontek, IFT Institut für Therapieforschung, Parzivalstraße 25, München D-80804, Germany; piontek{at}


Background In order to better understand trends in cannabis use, this study estimates independent and non-confounded age, period and cohort effects on 12-month cannabis use prevalence and frequency.

Methods Data from seven waves of the German Epidemiological Survey of Substance Abuse (ESA) conducted between 1990 and 2009 were used. The total sample included 29 836 men and 34 877 women aged 18–65 years. Cross-classified random effects models were conducted to estimate fixed effects of age and random effects of periods and birth cohorts. Analyses were stratified by gender.

Results With regard to 12-month prevalence, substantial age variations were identified with a peak of cannabis use in young adulthood. The overall effects of periods and birth cohorts were not significant. With regard to frequency of use, there were no significant influences of either variable. The results were largely identical for men and women.

Conclusions This study identified little variation in trend data of current cannabis use. When confounding influences of period and ageing are controlled, the widely reported increases in cannabis consumption in recent birth cohorts cannot be demonstrated.

  • Cannabis
  • age–period–cohort (APC) analysis
  • trends
  • Epidemiological Survey of Substance Abuse
  • addictive behaviour/addiction
  • alcohol
  • drug misuse
  • epidemiology

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Funding Funding for the Epidemiological Survey of Substance Abuse (ESA) was provided by the German Federal Ministry of Health (grant No. 119-4914-8/32).

  • Competing interests None to declare.

  • Ethics approval The German Epidemiological Survey of Substance Abuse is approved by the Ethics Committee of the German Psychological Society.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.