EASING THE PAIN OF AN ECONOMIC DOWNTURN: MACROECONOMIC CONDITIONS AND EXCESSIVE ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION

Authors

  • María E. Dávalos,

    1. Health Economics Research Group, Sociology Research Center, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL, USA
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  • Hai Fang,

    1. Department of Health Systems, Management, and Policy, Colorado School of Public Health, University of Colorado Denver, Aurora, CO, USA
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  • Michael T. French

    Corresponding author
    • Health Economics Research Group, Departments of Sociology, Economics, and Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL, USA
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Department of Sociology, University of Miami, 5202 University Drive, Merrick Building, Room 121 F, P.O. Box 248162, Coral Gables, FL 33124–2030, USA. E-mail: mfrench@miami.edu

SUMMARY

Individuals can react to financial stress in a variety of ways, such as reducing discretionary spending or engaging in risky behaviors. This article investigates the effect of changing macroeconomic conditions (measured by the unemployment rate in the state of residence) on one type of risky behavior: excessive alcohol consumption. Using unique and recent panel data from waves 1 and 2 of the National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) and estimating fixed-effects models, we find that changes in the unemployment rate are positively related to changes in binge drinking, alcohol-involved driving, and alcohol abuse and/or dependence. Some differences are present among demographic groups, primarily in the magnitude of the estimated effects. These results contradict previous studies and suggest that problematic drinking may be an indirect and unfortunate consequence of an economic downturn. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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