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Objective and subjective social class gradients for substance use among Mexican adolescents


  • Ritterman, Miranda Lucia
  • Fernald, Lia C.
  • Ozer, Emily J.
  • Adler, Nancy E.
  • Gutierrez, Juan Pablo
  • Syme, S. Leonard


This study examines the shape of social class gradients for substance use among Mexican adolescents. Substance use and objective and subjective indicators of social class were assessed in house-to-house surveys conducted with 7614 Mexican adolescents in 2004. The sample was designed to be representative of the poorest urban communities in seven Mexican states. The prevalence of current smoking was 16.8%, alcohol consumption was 30.2%, and drug use was 4.6%. Multiple logistic regressions are used to estimate the associations of objective indicators of socioeconomic status (SES) and subjective social status (SSS)--at both community and societal levels-and smoking, alcohol and drug use. Adolescents who perceived themselves as higher in social status in reference to their local community reported more smoking and drinking. Our findings were similar when we used objective measures of SES, such as maternal education and total monthly household expenditures per person. In contrast, adolescents who perceived that they had high social standing in reference to Mexican society as a whole were less likely to report being current smokers and drinkers. We found no significant association between social status and drug use. Research into how adolescents perceive themselves in reference to their peer communities may help strengthen programs and policies aimed at promoting health in vulnerable adolescent populations.

Suggested Citation

  • Ritterman, Miranda Lucia & Fernald, Lia C. & Ozer, Emily J. & Adler, Nancy E. & Gutierrez, Juan Pablo & Syme, S. Leonard, 2009. "Objective and subjective social class gradients for substance use among Mexican adolescents," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 68(10), pages 1843-1851, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:68:y:2009:i:10:p:1843-1851

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Glendinning, Anthony & Love, John G. & Hendry, Leo B. & Shucksmith, Janet, 1992. "Adolescence and health inequalities: Extensions to macintyre and west," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 35(5), pages 679-687, September.
    2. Tuinstra, Jolanda & Groothoff, Johan W. & van den Heuvel, Wim J. A. & Post, Doeke, 1998. "Socio-economic differences in health risk behavior in adolescence: Do they exist?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 67-74, July.
    3. Glendinning, Anthony & Hendry, Leo & Shucksmith, Janet, 1995. "Lifestyle, health and social class in adolescence," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 235-248, July.
    4. repec:aph:ajpbhl:10.2105/ajph.2006.101295_7 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. West, Patrick, 1997. "Health inequalities in the early years: Is there equalisation in youth?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 44(6), pages 833-858, March.
    6. West, Patrick & Sweeting, Helen, 2004. "Evidence on equalisation in health in youth from the West of Scotland," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 59(1), pages 13-27, July.
    7. Torsheim, Torbjorn & Currie, Candace & Boyce, William & Kalnins, Ilze & Overpeck, Mary & Haugland, Siren, 2004. "Material deprivation and self-rated health: a multilevel study of adolescents from 22 European and North American countries," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 59(1), pages 1-12, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Pavic Simetin, Ivana & Kern, Josipa & Kuzman, Marina & Pförtner, Timo-Kolja, 2013. "Inequalities in Croatian pupils' risk behaviors associated to socioeconomic environment at school and area level: A multilevel approach," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 154-161.
    2. Nobles, Jenna & Weintraub, Miranda Ritterman & Adler, Nancy E., 2013. "Subjective socioeconomic status and health: Relationships reconsidered," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 82(C), pages 58-66.
    3. Alexander Miething, 2013. "The Relevance of Objective and Subjective Social Position for Self-Rated Health: A Combined Approach for the Swedish Context," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 111(1), pages 161-173, March.


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