The Links between Acculturation, Other Forms of Assimilation, and Alcohol Use

Cassie Hartzog, University of California, Davis

Acculturation is often cited as an explanation for increased alcohol use across immigrant generations, but the use of acculturation as a variable suffers from serious conceptual and methodological problems, making it difficult to reach conclusions about the mechanisms that link acculturation to drinking. This study uses a large, national survey of alcohol use to study three alcohol-related outcomes, and how they are associated with different measures of assimilation. Preliminary results suggest that language acculturation and ethnic identity assimilation are associated with increased alcohol use, but being more socially assimilated in terms of the ethnicity of friends and acquaintances, is associated with decreased alcohol use. The associations between generation, assimilation and alcohol use differ depending on the outcome variable. In general, more recent immigrant generations are less likely to be drinkers or to have alcohol use disorders, but the assimilation variables, while significant, do little to explain generational gradients.

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Presented in Session 97: Health Behaviors, Health, and Mortality II