Background. Health inequality and its social determinants are well-studied, but the determinants of inequality of alcohol consumption are less well-investigated. Methods. The total differential approach of decomposition of changes in the concentration index of the probability of participation in alcohol consumption was applied to 8-year longitudinal data for Swedish women aged 28-76 in 1988/89. Results. Alcohol consumption showed a pro-rich inequality, with income being a strong contributor. Overall participation remained fairly constant, but the inequality decreased over time as abstinence became less common among the poor and more common among the rich. This was mainly due to changes in the relative weights of certain population groups, such as a decrease in the proportional size of the oldest cohorts. Conclusions. Inequality in participation in alcohol consumption is pro-rich in Sweden. This inequality has tended to decrease over time, due to changes in population composition rather than to policy intervention.