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J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2008 Mar;69(2):266-74.

Early alcohol use, rural residence, and adult employment.

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Department of Health Sciences, College of Health Professions, Armstrong Atlantic State University, Savannah, Georgia, USA.



Rural residence was once perceived as protective regarding youthful alcohol use and its effects. Our study examined whether the relationship between alcohol use in youth and early adulthood and subsequent employment outcomes differed for rural and urban youth.


Data from a 20-year panel survey, the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979, were used to address the association between alcohol use between the ages of 17 and 26 and employment outcomes during adulthood. Early drinking experiences and misuse symptoms were used as drinking behavior measures. Rural was defined as living outside any Metropolitan Statistical Area. Employment outcomes were defined using employment status and employment quality. Analyses were weighted to reflect the stratified sample design (N = 8,399).


Drinking behaviors did not differ by residence. In bivariate analysis, alcohol use measures during youth were consistently associated with working more than 40 hours per week and earning irregular compensation. For three of seven employment quality measures examined, interactions between residence and alcohol use were observed in multivariable analysis. Rural youth were more likely to suffer adverse employment consequences.


Rural residence does not appear to provide protection from the effects of drinking during youth on adulthood employment and was associated with adverse outcomes. Further research is needed to ascertain whether such differences stem from different availability of services or other characteristics of the rural environment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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