Evaluating Heavy Episodic Drinking Effects on Educational Attainment.
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- alcohol; education; adolescence; emerging adulthood
thesis / dissertation description
Adolescence and emerging adulthood are transition points that offer both opportunities and constraints on individual development. The purpose of this study is threefold: First, to examine two models (i.e., young adolescents in grades 7 and 8 and older adolescents in grade 12) of heavy episodic drinking and examine how heavy episodic drinking affects subsequent educational attainment. By utilizing two different developmental transitions, i.e., middle school to high school and high school to college, it may be possible to better understand the temporal effects of alcohol use and subsequent educational attainment. The second purpose of this study is to examine how alcohol use at Time 1 may lead to the problems in the adolescent’s immediate context due to alcohol (i.e., problems with parents, peers, romantic relationships, problems at school) and to examine if these problems affect educational attainment over and above alcohol use alone. The third purpose of this study is to examine the potential gender differences in these models. The study uses data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, which is a large scale, nationally representative school based sample of 20,745 adolescents who were interviewed in grades 7 to 12. Two longitudinal mediational models were evaluated utilizing structural equation modeling. Binge drinking and number of days drunk were used as indicators for a latent variable of heavy episodic drinking (i.e., LHED). In the 7th and 8th grade model, direct effects of LHED were found to predict educational attainment at grade 12. Additionally, in the 7th and 8th grade sample, a mediated relationship was found whereby educational attainment was predicted by problems with parents. Problems with parents were predicted by number of days drunk in the past year. In the 12th grade sample, there were no direct effects or indirect effects of alcohol on educational attainment. This study highlights the need for using a longitudinal framework when examining heavy episodic drinking’s effects on educational attainment.