Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1726141
 


 



The Effects of Family Stressors on Substance Use Initiation in Adolescence


Jason M. Fletcher


Yale University - School of Public Health; University of Wisconsin - Madison - Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs

Jody L. Sindelar


Yale University - School of Public Health; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

December 15, 2010


Abstract:     
Smoking and drinking are critical problems in adolescence that have long-term adverse impacts on health and socio-economic factors. We examine the extent to which family stresses influence the timing of initiation of smoking and drinking. Using national panel data from the National Educational Longitudinal Study (NELS) we capitalize on the survey design and use school-level fixed effects that control for the local environments, including prices of cigarettes and alcohol. In addition, we narrow our control group to classmates who will experience a similar stressor in the future. We find that a composite measure of family stressors when young increases the likelihood of initiating tobacco and alcohol use, with much of the impact attributable to parental divorce. In our baseline estimates, the composite stress measure is associated with a 30% increase in the likelihood of smoking and a 20% increase in drinking. When we control for multiple sources of confounding, the impact shrinks and remains significant for smoking but not for drinking. We conclude that studies which do not control for confounding are likely to significantly overestimate the impact of family stress on substance use. Our approach helps to move the literature forward by separating causal results from spurious associations.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 30

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Date posted: December 18, 2010  

Suggested Citation

Fletcher, Jason M. and Sindelar, Jody L., The Effects of Family Stressors on Substance Use Initiation in Adolescence (December 15, 2010). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1726141 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1726141

Contact Information

Jason M. Fletcher (Contact Author)
Yale University - School of Public Health ( email )
PO Box 208034
60 College Street
New Haven, CT 06520-8034
United States
University of Wisconsin - Madison - Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs ( email )
1180 Observatory Drive
Madison, WI 53706-1393
United States
Jody L. Sindelar
Yale University - School of Public Health ( email )
PO Box 208034
60 College Street
New Haven, CT 06520-8034
United States
203-785-5287 (Phone)
203-785-6287 (Fax)
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
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