The longitudinal effect of drug use on the productivity status of nonmetropolitan African American young adults
Roldos Prosser, Maria Isabel
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The purpose of this study is to investigate the longitudinal effect of marijuana and heavy alcohol use on the productivity status of nonmetropolitan African American young adults, with the goal of assisting health care decision makers and health policy makers in the preparation of drug prevention policies that influence young adult’s health and economic outcomes. This secondary data analysis project used data from the Family and Community Health Study (FACHS). FACHS is a multisite investigation of neighborhood and family effects on health and development in African American families living in Georgia and Iowa. The effect of two drugs were assessed: 1) the effect of heavy alcohol use trajectories from adolescence to young adulthood (18-21 years of age), and 2) the effect of marijuana use when adolescents are likely to have initiated substance use (14 to 16 years of age). Productivity status was measured when the study participants were between 18 and 21 years old. Alcohol trajectories were measured using semi-parametric modeling. Multivariate logistic regression models were used to test the relation between drug use and productivity. The results suggest two distinct heavy alcohol use trajectories representing the probability of an adolescent’s consumption of heavy alcohol use. Most of the sample (93%) was identified as having a low probability of heavy alcohol use and only 7% of the sample had a high probability of heavy alcohol consumption. Marijuana abstainers, on the other hand represented 81% of the sample and 19% had initiated of marijuana use by age 16 years of age. Bivariate analysis of the effect of marijuana use indicate that marijuana users at age 16 are 35% less likely to be productive at age 21 than those who have not initiated marijuana use (p<0.005). The multivariate logistic models suggest that early adolescence drug use (marijuana and heavy alcohol use) do not have an effect on productivity status during their early adulthood, after controlling for individual, community and family factors. This study makes important contributions to the existing literature. First by using a longitudinal design with a social-ecological framework to assess the effect of drug use on productivity status among nonmetropolitan African American youth and second, the study contributes to the debate in the econometric literature on the direction and effect of this relation. Analyzing and understanding the different drug use trajectories in relation to a productivity outcome appropriate to the developmental and productivity growth of young adults has important implications for practice, education and research in preventing drug use and in identifying its relation with micro and macro level labor market outcomes.