Young people and alcohol: an econometric analysis

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AimsTo analyse the determinants of youth drinking behaviour within an economic-theoretical framework. The paper focuses especially on the effects of (a) having parents willing to supply alcohol, (b) living in a single-parent household, (c) having parents who are currently unemployed and (d) having received education about alcohol, narcotics and tobacco.Design, setting and participantsA Swedish cross-sectional survey data on 833 individuals aged 12–18 years was used to analyse the effects of the above variables on participation in drinking, frequency of drinking, intensity of drinking and binge drinking. Separate analyses were conducted for beer, wine and spirits. Care was taken in using appropriate econometric methods for the questions posed (negative binomial regression, censored regression and probit regression).FindingsHaving parents willing to supply alcohol increased frequency (P < 0.05) of beer, wine and spirits consumption, intensity (P < 0.05) of wine, spirits and illicit alcohol consumption, and increased probabilities (P < 0.10) of binge drinking and participation in drinking (P < 0.05). No effects were seen from living in a single-parent household. Having received education about alcohol, narcotics and tobacco had a negative association only with intensity (P < 0.10) of beer consumption. Having a father who was currently unemployed was associated with an increased (P < 0.05) probability of binge drinking but a reduced (P < 0.05) frequency of wine consumption.ConclusionsThe positive effect of having parents willing to supply alcohol could reflect that these individuals face lower acquisition costs or lower psychological costs in consumption. It could also reflect a price effect, if the individual receives the alcohol free from his or her parents.

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