Race, Employment Disadvantages, and Heavy Drinking: A Multilevel Model

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Abstract: We intended to determine (1) whether stress from employment disadvantages led to increased frequency of heavy drinking and (2) whether race had a role in the relationship between such disadvantages and heavy drinking. Study data came from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, a prospective study that has followed a representative sample of youth since 1979. Our study employed data from 11 particular years, during which the survey included items measuring respondents’ heavy drinking. Our final sample numbered 10,171 respondents, which generated 75,394 person-waves for data analysis. Both of our hypotheses were supported by results from multilevel mixed-effects linear regression capturing the time-varying nature of three employment disadvantages and of the heavy-drinking outcome. Results show that more-frequent heavy drinking was associated with employment disadvantages, and that disadvantages’ effects on drinking were stronger for Blacks and Hispanics than for Whites. That worsening employment disadvantages have worse effects on minority groups’ heavy drinking (compared to Whites) probably contributes to the racial health disparities in our nation. Policies and programs addressing such disparities are especially important during economic downturns.



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