Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Objective: To assess gender and age differences in hazardous drinking and to analyse and compare the factors associated with it in men versus women, and in 50 to 64-year-old versus ≥65-year-old people in Europe. Methods: Cross-sectional study with data from 65,955 people aged ≥50 years from 18 countries (SHARE project, 2011–2013). The outcome variable, hazardous drinking, was calculated using an adaptation of the AUDIT-C test. Several individual (sociodemographic, life-style and health factors) and contextual variables (country socioeconomic indicators and alcohol policies) were analysed. The prevalence of hazardous drinking was estimated by each exposure variable. To estimate associations, multilevel Poisson regression models with robust variance were fit, yielding prevalence ratios and their 95% confidence intervals (95%CI). Results: Overall, the prevalence of hazardous drinking was 21.5% (95%CI = 21.1–22.0), with substantial differences between countries. The proportion of hazardous drinking was higher in men than in women [26.3%(95%CI = 25.6–27.1); 17.5%(95%CI = 17.0–18.0), respectively], as well as in middle-aged people than in older people [23.6%(95%CI = 23.0–24.3); 19.2%(95%CI = 18.6–19.8), respectively]. At the individual level, associations were found for migrant background, marital status, educational level, tobacco smoking, depression and self-perceived health. At the contextual level, hazardous drinking was associated with gender inequalities in society (only in women) and alcohol advertising regulations (both genders). Conclusions: One in five people aged ≥50 years in the countries studied is a hazardous drinker, with large differences by countries, gender and age group. Interventions and policies aimed at preventing or reducing alcohol use in this population should account for country, gender and age differences, as well as individual characteristics. Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.