Socioeconomic status and adolescent alcohol involvement : evidence for a gene-environment Interaction
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Adolescent alcohol use patterns stem from both genetic and environmental influences. In addition to these factors contributing additively to risk for use, genetic and environmental factors interact with each other to inhibit or exacerbate risk (Young-Wolff et al., 2011). Socioeconomic status (SES) is one environmental factor that might interact with genetic risk for alcohol use. Two theories exist for understanding how SES might interact with genetic risk: 1) the social control model (Shanahan & Hofer, 2005) and 2) the diathesis stress model (South et al., 2015). The current study examined indicators of both family social status and financial resources as potential moderators of genetic and environmental influences on alcohol involvement among adolescents using data from the 1962 National Merit Twin Study. Results provided evidence for moderation of genetic and environmental influences on alcohol involvement by family income, with increased genetic contributions to alcohol involvement among individuals with lower family incomes and increased environmental contributions to alcohol use among those with higher family incomes. Despite a lack of significance, analyses did show that genetic and shared environmental influences varied across average parental education levels, particularly for females. These findings suggest etiological influences on alcohol involvement vary as a function of an adolescent's socioeconomic status. Implications and limitations are discussed.
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