Effects of economic disruptions on alcohol use and problems: Why do African Americans fare worse?

Rhonda Jones-Webb, Katherine J. Karriker-Jaffe, Sarah E. Zemore, Nina Mulia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Objective: This study tested a model of the effects of recession-related job loss on alcohol use disorder (AUD) and examined why African Americans who lost their jobs during the 2008–2009 recession were at increased risk for AUD relative to Whites. We hypothesized that (a) job loss would be positively associated with psychological distress (i.e., higher levels of depressive symptoms) and increased drunkenness, and (b) low levels of family social support and experiences of racial stigma would exacerbate the effects of job loss on distress, especially among African Americans and Hispanics. Method: Data were drawn from the 2010 U.S. National Alcohol Survey (NAS), a crosssectional survey of the U.S. general population. Using data from the 2010 NAS (telephone survey of 1,111 African American, 964 Hispanic, and 3,133 White adults), we conducted simultaneous path modeling in Mplus to test mediation and moderation hypotheses. Our key outcome was AUD as measured by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition. Results: Recession-related job loss was significantly associated with AUD through its effects on increased drunkenness, and the associations were positive for Whites, stronger for African Americans than Whites, and nonexistent for Hispanics. Job loss was associated with distress in the overall sample, and distress was positively associated with drunkenness among African Americans only, suggesting that distress is another pathway by which job loss affects AUD among African Americans. Higher levels of family social support mitigated the effects of job loss on psychological distress, and this relationship did not differ by race/ethnicity. Conclusions: During economic downturns, increased stress and heavy drinking are important pathways through which recession-related job loss can lead to greater AUD among African Americans relative to Whites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)261-271
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of studies on alcohol and drugs
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by National Institute onAlcoholism andAlcohol Abuse Grants P50AA005595 and R01AA020474.

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