Heavy Episodic Drinking in Early Adulthood: How Parents’ Education Contextualizes the Effects of College Status

Citation

Kuhl, Danielle C. & Burrington, Lori A. (2020). Heavy Episodic Drinking in Early Adulthood: How Parents’ Education Contextualizes the Effects of College Status. Sociological Focus. vol. 53 (1) pp. 29-52

Abstract

Young adults who transition to college are at particular risk of heavy episodic drinking (HED), as they consume more alcohol than their same-aged peers who do not attend college. Yet the link between college attendance and HED during young adulthood may vary depending on social class origins. Building on life course and socio-structural perspectives that suggest that status characteristics give meaning to role transitions in ways that shape young adults’ drinking behavior, this study situates the risk of HED within the sociological context of educational attainment, and examines how parents’ education conditions the relationship between young adults’ college status and HED. We suggest that the odds of HED are higher when a young adult’s college status is “off-diagonal” – incongruent with their parents’ educational attainment. Using data from Waves I and III of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health for a sample of 13,526 young adults, stratified by sex, results indicate that being off-diagonal increases the odds of HED, but not for everyone. Females whose parents have higher levels of education but who themselves do not attend college, and those whose parents have low levels of education but who themselves attend four-year colleges, have higher odds of HED. The results for males show no significant interactions between parents’ education and own college status. For both females and males, there are pronounced racial/ethnic differences in HED odds, after controlling for educational mismatch. Findings suggest that HED policies targeting the archetypal four-year-college attending male should be expanded to other groups.

URL

https://doi.org/10.1080/00380237.2019.1703864

Keyword(s)

Alcohol

Reference Type

Journal Article

Journal Title

Sociological Focus

Author(s)

Kuhl, Danielle C.
Burrington, Lori A.

Year Published

2020

Volume Number

53

Issue Number

1

Pages

29-52

DOI

10.1080/00380237.2019.1703864

Reference ID

5929