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The 2008–2009 Recession and Alcohol Outcomes: Differential Exposure and Vulnerability for Black and Latino Populations
Sarah E. Zemore, Nina Mulia, Rhonda J. Jones-Webb, Huiguo Liu, Laura Schmidt
Objective: We examined whether race/ethnicity was related to exposure to acute economic losses in the 2008–2009 recession, even accounting for individual-level and geographic variables, and whether it influenced associations between economic losses and drinking patterns and problems. Method: Data were from the 2010 National Alcohol Survey (N = 5,382). Surveys assessed both severe losses (i.e., job and housing loss) and moderate losses (i.e., reduced hours/pay and trouble paying the rent/mortgage) attributed to the 2008–2009 recession. Alcohol outcomes included total annual volume, monthly drunkenness, drinking consequences, and alcohol dependence (based on criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition). Results: Compared with Whites, Blacks reported significantly greater exposure to job loss and trouble paying the rent/mortgage, and Latinos reported greater exposure to all economic losses. However, only Black–White differences were robust in multivariate analyses. Interaction tests suggested that associations between exposure to economic loss and alcohol problems were stronger among Blacks than Whites. Given severe (vs. no) loss, Blacks had about 13 times the odds of both two or more drinking consequences and alcohol dependence, whereas the corresponding odds ratios for Whites were less than 3. Conversely, associations between economic loss and alcohol outcomes were weak and ambiguous among Latinos. Conclusions: Results suggest greater exposure to economic loss for both Blacks and Latinos (vs. Whites) and that the Black population may be particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of economic hardship on the development and/or maintenance of alcohol problems. Findings extend the economic literature and signal policy makers and service providers that Blacks and Latinos may be at special risk during economic downturns. (J. Stud. Alcohol Drugs, 74, 9–20, 2013)