The Great Recession and Employee Alcohol Use: A U.S. Population Study


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Abstract

This is the first study to examine broadly the overall net change in U.S. population estimates of alcohol use related to a recession—The Great Recession—among individuals who remain employed. The alcohol variables included drinker status, usual frequency and quantity of alcohol use, frequency of heavy drinking and intoxication, as well as contextual assessments of the frequency and quantity of alcohol use during the workday and after work. The moderating influence of gender, race, and age also was explored. Data for this repeated cross-sectional study were obtained from 2 national telephone surveys of U.S. workers. The first survey occurred prior to the Great Recession (2002–2003; N = 2,501), whereas the second survey occurred during and after the official end of the Great Recession (2008–2011; N = 2,581). The results revealed that the recession was related to a higher proportion of drinkers among middle-aged employees, but not among young employees. Gender and race did not moderate the relation of the recession to drinker status. Among drinkers, the recession was not related to usual alcohol use (frequency and quantity), but was positively related to the frequency of heavy drinking and intoxication. Further, the recession had a differential relation to the contextual alcohol measures. It was negatively related to the frequency and quantity of workday alcohol use, but was positively related to the frequency and quantity of afterwork alcohol use. Among drinkers, gender, race, and age did not moderate the relation of the recession to alcohol use.

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