How community-level social and economic developments have changed the patterns of substance use in a transition economy?

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Abstract

Most social changes take place at the community level before indirectly affecting individuals. Although the contextual effect is far-reaching, few studies have investigated the important questions of: how do community-level developments affect drinking and smoking, and how do they change the existing gender and income patterns of drinking and smoking, particularly in transition economies? In this study, I used a Chinese panel dataset between 1991 and 2011 to reveal the moderating effects of community developments. Through multilevel growth curve modeling that controls for age, period, and cohort effects, as well as individual- and community-level covariates, I found that community-level economic development and social development are negatively associated with drinking and smoking. Moreover, economic and social developments also moderate the important influences of income and gender: women start to drink more in communities with higher economic development; the traditionally positive association between income and smoking/drinking is also reversed, i.e. the rich start to smoke and drink less in communities with higher social development. This study concludes that the rapid changes in communal social and economic structures have created new health disparities based on the gender and socioeconomic hierarchy.

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