Alcoholism and Income: The Role of Indirect Effects

The potential pathways by which alcoholism might affect income are examined using data on males from the New Haven site of the Epidemiologic Catchment Area (ECA) data set to illustrate important indirect, and direct, effects of alcoholism on income. The detrimental indirect effects occur through reduction of educational attainment and increased probability of divorce. Because both educational attainment and marriage positively influence income, the adverse impact of alcoholism on both of these variables translates into lower income for alcoholics. The implications should lead researchers to distinguish more carefully between the direct and indirect costs of this condition. Policy analysts also should explore the financial impact of early onset when they look at overall costs. Because this has often been underestimated, fewer resources are devoted to prevention and treatment of alcoholism than a considered awareness of the problem would indicate is warranted.

Author(s): John Mullahy; Jody L. Sindelar

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Volume 72, Issue 2 (pages 359–375)
Published in 1994