The Long Term Impact of Adolescent Risky Behaviors and Family Environment. 5. The Relationship of Parental Alcohol Problems to Adult Outcomes

08/01/2001

As noted earlier, parent's alcoholism is unlikely to have positive effects on a child's development. The regressions bear this out strongly. Compared with individuals who do not grow up with an alcoholic parent, a child of an alcoholic parent is 33 percent more likely to have an adult alcohol problem, 21 percent more likely to use drugs as an adult, and 32 percent more likely to spend time in jail. They do not fare any better on the economic front. They are 22 percent more likely to spend time in poverty and 41 percent more likely to receive welfare at some point. Although they do not have lower percent time employed, they take nearly ten months longer to find a steady job. The p-values indicate that these results have relatively low probabilities of occurring by chance.

On the other hand, few relationships between parental alcohol use and marriage/fertility outcomes are significant. There is no difference in the likelihood of being married at age 33.19 However, consistent with the literature, we find that ACOAs are more likely to divorce (Parker and Harford 1988). In fact, the only category that achieves statistical significance is married and divorced with children. About 30 percent of those who marry are divorced by age 33, while about 27 percent of those without an alcoholic parent who marry are divorced.

Section Summary

  • Compared with individuals who do not grow up with an alcoholic parent, a child of an alcoholic parent is more likely to have an adult alcohol problem, is more likely to use drugs as an adult, and is more likely to spend time in jail.
  • Adult children of alcoholics are more likely to spend time in poverty and are more likely to receive welfare at some point. Although they do not have lower percent time employed, they take longer to find a steady job.
  • Few relationships between parental alcohol use and marriage/fertility outcomes are significant; however, adult children of alcoholics are more likely to divorce.