Parents who Exit and Parents who Enter. Family Structure Transitions, Child Psychological Health, and Early Drinking

Marta Pasqualini, Università di Roma La Sapienza
Donatella Lanari, Università di Perugia
Luca Pieroni, Università di Perugia

Family structure has been widely considered as a fundamental determinant of child’s health and wellbeing. Prior researches have also examined the relationship between family dissolution and child’s propensity to adopt risky behaviours. However, the patterns of family structure have changed dramatically in the last decades and so others parental characteristics associated with a stable and healthy family environment should be investigated in their effects on child’s risky behaviours.

In this paper, we use path analysis to assess whether a supportive family environment (more than the family structure itself) decreases the probability to drink alcohol among UK pre-teens and whether it happens also by enforcing the awareness about risks due to alcohol consumption. Data come from the UK Millennium Cohort Study (Sample of 21,205 individuals, 11-years-old).

Understanding whether a supportive family environment affects alcohol risks perceptions and the probability to explore alcohol early in life may represent a key factor in implementing preventive interventions. Moreover, examining early drinking has potentially important public health implications since this phenomenon is strongly widespread among British 11-years-olds.


Is Itthe Shape or the Substance?

FamilyStructure, Supportive Family Environment and Early Drinking: Findings from theUK Millennium Cohort Study.

Pasqualini,M.; Lanari, D.; Pieroni, L.

 

BACKGROUND

Familystructure has been widely considered as a fundamental determinant of child’shealth and wellbeing. Prior researches have also examined the relationshipbetween family dissolution and child’s propensity to adopt risky behaviours.However, since the patterns of family structure have changed dramatically inthe last decades, others parental characteristics associated withsupportiveness of family environment should be investigated in their effects onchild’s risky behaviours.

Specifically,drinking in youth is emerging as an important public health problem (Kelly etal., 2016). Indeed, early drinking is not only linked to other riskybehaviours, but it is also associated with educational failure and prematuredeath (Kelly et al., 2016). Moreover, even though in the last decade there hasbeen a decline of drinking among adolescents in the UK (Fuller et al., 2014),consumption levels among youth remain higher than the European average (ESPADReport, 2011).

PURPOSE

Goalsof this paper are : 1. To assess the association between supportive familyenvironment with reported drinking behaviour among 11-years-olds; 2. Toinvestigate the mediator role played by perceived risks due to alcoholconsumption in the hypothesised relationship (1) ; 3. To test whether familystructure alleviates the hypothesised relationships (1 and 2).

DATA& METHODS

Inthis paper, we develop a Path Analysis (PA) using data drawn from the UKMillennium Cohort Study (MCS). The self-rated outcome measure is having drankand alcoholic drink at 11 years old. Main explanatory variables are familystructure,  supportive family environment, which is given by a latent constructrelated to a set of variables concerning co-parenting support, parents-childrelationships, parental support and level of shared activities, and the perceptionof risks due to alcohol that is assessed by a question related to how peoplerisk harming themselves if they drink alcohol. Analyses are controlled for aset of demographic, behavioural and socio-economic variables.

PRELIMINARYRESULTS

Preliminaryresults provide evidence concerning the association between a supportive familyenvironment and both, higher perceived risk due to alcohol consumption and lowerprobability of having drank an alcoholic drink at 11 years old.

Specifically,GSEM estimates show that a supportive family environment increases theprobability to report a greater perception of risks due to alcohol consumption(beta = 0.333; S.E = 0.046; p-value < 0.01). At the same time, a supportivefamily environment directly decreases the probability to start drinking at 11years old (beta = -0.59; S.E = 0.083; p-value < 0.01) and a potentialmediation effect is provided by risky perception which, in its turn,significantly decreases the probability to have drank an alcoholic drink (beta= -0.46; S.E = 0.032; p-value < 0.01).

Moreover,we expect that family structure (being a single parent vs. being in couple)does not change the positive relation between family environment and earlydrinking, assessing in this way that the substance (more than the shape)matters in incrementing early negative expectation concerning drinking and inprotecting pre-teens from early alcohol consumption. Indeed, since over thepast decades the patterns of family structure have changed dramatically in theUK, marriage itself may not be as relevant anymore as a proxy for familystability.

Examiningthe role of a supportive family environment on child’s propensity to adopt riskybehaviours early in life may represent a key factor in implementing preventiveinterventions. Moreover, examining early drinking has potentially importantpublic health implications as this phenomenon id widespread among British11-years-olds.

 

 

 

SELECTEDREFERENCE

1.Kelly, Yvonne, Alice Goisis, Amanda Sacker, Noriko Cable, Richard G. Watt, andAnnie Britton. "What influences 11-year-olds to drink? Findings from theMillennium Cohort Study." BMC public health 16, no. 1 (2016): 169.

2.Fuller, E., and V. Hawkins. "Health and Social Care Information Centre,Smoking, drinking and drug use among young people in England in 2013."London: NatCen Social Research (2014).

3.The 2011 ESPAD Report. Substance Use Among Students in 36European Countries.[http://www.espad.org/uploads/espad_reports/2011/the_2011_espad_report_full_2012_10_29.pdf].2012.

 



Presented in Session 1191: Mortality and Longevity