Effects of Alcohol Use on Educational Attainment and Employment in Rural Youth

Research center:
Lead researcher:
Project completed:
October 2005
As they pass from teens to early adult-hood, a significant portion of American youth initiate alcohol use. The rates of alcohol use rise dramatically, from 3 percent at age 12 to 49 percent at age 20. Previously, it was believed that strong social connections present in rural areas reduced youthful consumption of alcohol and substance abuse, but recent studies suggest that the rural-urban gap has closed. Alcohol use in youth has been demonstrated to lower educational attainment, but little is known about whether or not youthful alcohol use affects employment opportunities and lower wages. This study proposes to examine the effects of alcohol use during the teen years on subsequent educational attainment and employment in a panel of rural residents. If the effects of youthful alcohol use are more severe and more long lasting in rural areas, then programs targeting these locales should be researched and advocated by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration. This study will use a longitudinal panel study design for the period 1979 to 1998, employing the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth-1979 data set, which is an ongoing annual panel survey of persons who were between the ages of 14 and 22 in 1979.


  • Early Alcohol Use, Rural Residence, and Adulthood Employment
    Rural and Minority Health Research Center
    Date: 10/2005
    Findings indicate that drinking during youth and early adulthood was common in the early 1980s. Nearly half of respondents reported drinking before age 18, and 55.3% reported binge drinking. Drinking behaviors did not differ significantly between rural and urban residents.