Does College Alcohol Consumption Impact Employment Upon Graduation? Findings From a Prospective Study

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Abstract

Although scholars have extensively studied the impact of academic and vocational factors on college students’ employment upon graduation, we still know little as to how students’ health-related behaviors influence such outcomes. Focusing on student alcohol use as a widely prevalent, health-related behavior, in the current study, we examined the employment implications of student drinking behavior. Drawing from literature examining the productivity effects of drinking and research on job search, we posited that modal quantity and frequency of alcohol consumption, as well as the frequency of heavy episodic drinking (HED) adversely impact the probability of employment upon graduation. Using data from 827 graduating seniors from 4 geographically diverse universities in the United States collected in the context of a prospective study design, we found modal alcohol consumption to have no adverse effect on the likelihood of employment upon graduation. However, we did find a significant adverse effect for the frequency of heavy drinking, with the data suggesting a roughly 10% reduction in the odds of employment upon graduation among college seniors who reported engaging in the average level of HED. The theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed.

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