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Am J Public Health. 1988 Oct;78(10):1315-21.

Period, age, and cohort effects on substance use among young Americans: a decade of change, 1976-86.

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  • 1Survey Research Center, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 48106-1248.


In an earlier article in this Journal, we reported analyses that differentiated among period, age, and cohort effects on substance use among American youth 18 to 24 years old, from the high school classes of 1976 to 1982 during the period of 1976 to 1982. The present analyses extend the classes and years to 1986, and the age range to 18-28. A cohort-sequential design is employed, based on annual surveys of nationally representative samples of high school seniors, plus annual follow-up surveys of each senior class. Twelve different classes of drugs, both licit and illicit, are examined. Several different types of period, age, and cohort effects over the last decade are identified. Alcohol use (monthly and occasions of heavy use), and the use of marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, methaqualone, barbiturates, LSD, psychedelics other than LSD, and tranquilizers all showed period effects. Occasions of heavy drinking, cigarette smoking, monthly and daily use of alcohol, and annual prevalence of cocaine, amphetamines, barbiturates, LSD, and narcotics other than heroin showed age effects. Class effects were seen for cigarette smoking and daily marijuana use.

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