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Am J Public Health. 2011 Nov;101(11):2093-101. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2010.194159. Epub 2011 Feb 17.

Alcohol consumption in early adulthood and schooling completed and labor market outcomes at midlife by race and gender.

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Department of Economics, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708-0097, USA.



We assessed the relation of alcohol consumption in young adulthood to problem alcohol consumption 10 years later and to educational attainment and labor market outcomes at midlife. We considered whether these relations differ between Blacks and Whites.


We classified individuals on the basis of their drinking frequency patterns with data from the 1982 to 1984 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 (respondents aged 19-27 years). We assessed alcohol consumption from the 1991 reinterview (respondents aged 26-34 years) and midlife outcomes from the 2006 reinterview (respondents aged 41-49 years).


Black men who consumed 12 or more drinks per week at baseline had lower earnings at midlife, but no corresponding relation for Black women or Whites was found. Black men and Black women who consumed 12 or more drinks per week at baseline had lower occupational attainment than did White male non-drinkers and White female non-drinkers, respectively, but this result was not statistically significant.


The relation between alcohol consumption in young adulthood and important outcomes at midlife differed between Blacks and Whites and between Black men and Black women, although Blacks' alcohol consumption at baseline was lower on average than was that of Whites.

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