Life course transitions and racial and ethnic differences in pathways to adult smoking


Lawrence, Elizabeth; Pampel, Fred C.; & Mollborn, Stefanie (2012). Life course transitions and racial and ethnic differences in pathways to adult smoking. 2012 Add Health Users Conference. Bethesda, MD.


Although black teens smoke less than white teens, the racial differences reverse by young adulthood. This shift in black-white disparities across ages and shifts involving other racial and ethnic groups reflect varied pathways to smoking that involve more than a continuation of patterns set out early in life. Despite considerable descriptive evidence of the racial differences, the literature has done less well to explain the varied pathways. We utilize a life course perspective on social differentiation to determine whether race and ethnic differences in achieved socioeconomic status (SES) and the nature and timing of adult role transitions contribute to changing smoking disparities in young adulthood. The analyses use growth curve models to compare age trajectories of smoking across racial and ethnic groups. The results show that achieved SES and adult roles do not account for the divergent age trajectories in smoking by race and ethnicity. The findings suggest that normative environments may influence racial and ethnic disparities in adult smoking more than life course changes.


Reference Type

Conference proceeding

Book Title

2012 Add Health Users Conference


Lawrence, Elizabeth
Pampel, Fred C.
Mollborn, Stefanie

Year Published


City of Publication

Bethesda, MD

Reference ID