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Relative Deprivation and Risky Behaviors

  • Ana I. Balsa


  • Michael T. French
  • Tracy L. Regan

Relative deprivation, as measured by one?s socioeconomic status (SES) compared to that of a relevant peer group, has been associated with lower life and job satisfaction, as well as with adverse physical and mental health outcomes. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, we examine whether a student?s SES relative to her classmates has a direct effect on the frequency of drinking alcohol, drinking to intoxication, and smoking cigarettes. We further the existing literature by addressing selection and simultaneity bias, and by focusing on a reference group likely to exert the most influence on the subjects under study. We find that relative deprivation is positively and significantly associated with alcohol consumption, drinking to intoxication, and smoking for male adolescents, but not for females. Alternative variable definitions and robustness checks confirm the core findings. This study offers new insight into the reasons why adolescents engage in risky behaviors.

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Paper provided by Facultad de Ciencias Empresariales y Economia. Universidad de Montevideo. in its series Documentos de Trabajo/Working Papers with number 1203.

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Date of creation: 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mnt:wpaper:1203
Contact details of provider: Postal: Prudencio de Pena 2440, Montevideo 11600
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