2010, Number 4
Salud Mental 2010; 33 (4)
Subjective valoration of risk perception and alcohol consumption among Spanish students
Gil-Lacruz AI, Gil-Lacruz M
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Although Spanish adolescents recognize that reiterative alcohol abuse has negative consequences over consumers and society in general, the percentages of teenagers who get drunk during the weekends keep alarming high.
Young people are exposed to a wide range of messages about the externalities related to alcohol consumption whose connotation and importance are divergent. Our main goal is to analyze which channels are the most effective to reduce alcohol abuse. To that end, we focus on a theoretical framework which combines the forming of risk perceptions with the decision of consuming alcoholic beverages.
We focus on young people because alcohol consumption patterns consolidate in adolescence and adolescents are also highly sensitive to peerpressure, and in general, to social forces.
Materials and methods
The main contribution of this paper lies in analyzing how the different sources of information (relatives, friends, teachers, official organism, mass media, seminars, hooked people and publications) configure risk perceptions.
To address the issue of endogeneity between risk perception and risky behaviors, we consider a simultaneous equation system, and to analyze the robustness of the results, we carry out two more different specifications: a model in which these endogenous variables are included but treated as exogenous and a model in which these variables are excluded.
We have drawn sub-populations of 21344, 26530 and 25521 high-school students from the Spanish National Surveys on Drug Use in the School Population 2000, 2002 and 2004.
We have also used the Harmonised Consumer Price Indexes (HCPI) as a proxy of the alcoholic beverages’ prices. These indexes, provided by the Spanish National Statistical Institute, are statistical measures which summarize the e olution of the acquisition capacity of the resident population in Spain to buy alcoholic drinks across Spanish provinces (n=50). Because these indexes also compute for geographical and temporal differences (for example, some Spanish provinces are important wine producers or some years have been specially good or bad for the agricultural sector given weather or economic conditions), we have introduced time and geographical dummy variables in order to control for these two dimensions.
Our results validate the theoretical framework. The riskier the students consider the consumption of alcoholic beverages, the lower is their alcohol demand. This empirical evidence is fundamental in justifying the design of public polices oriented to inform young people about the real risks of consuming drugs.
This paper also brings to light that the most effective channels to inform young people are official organisms, parents and siblings, mass media, talks and seminars, and teachers. The other way ar und, friends seem to exert a negative influence.
The main conclusion we draw from these results is that alcohol consumption is a social issue. To design effective anti-drug policies, we have to take into account adolescents’ social environments: families, friends and schools, among others. It is fundamental to inform parents and teachers, and in general to reach the highest population section as possible. The good piece of news is that people who surround adolescence are getting more and more involved with their education; parents and teachers are sharing the responsibility of informing adolescents about drugs.