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Socio-economic status in childhood and later alcohol use: A systematic review

Wiles, Nicola J.; Lingford-Hughes, Anne; Byron-Daniel, J Z; Hickman, Matthew; Farrell, Michael; Macleod, John; Haynes, Jonathan C.; Skapinakis, Petros; Araya, Ricardo; Lewis, Glyn


Nicola J. Wiles

Anne Lingford-Hughes

Matthew Hickman

Michael Farrell

John Macleod

Jonathan C. Haynes

Petros Skapinakis

Ricardo Araya

Glyn Lewis


Aim: To conduct a systematic review of longitudinal studies that examined the association between childhood socio-economic status (SES) and alcohol use in later life. Methods: A systematic search to identify all longitudinal population-based studies that examined the association between childhood SES and later alcohol use. Results: Nineteen relevant articles were identified (eight birth cohorts and 11 papers on school-aged cohorts). There was little consistent evidence to support an association between lower childhood SES and later (mis)use of alcohol. Only a minority of studies included assessment of problem alcohol use, and in only one study was the relationship between SES and alcohol use the main research question. Conclusion: We found little robust evidence to support the assumption that childhood disadvantage is associated with later alcohol use/abuse. Given the importance of this issue in terms of policy, the lack of evidence is surprising and emphasizes the need for further research in order to inform future policies and public health messages. © 2007 The Authors.


Daniel, J., Wiles, N. J., Lingford-Hughes, A., Byron-Daniel, J. Z., Hickman, M., Farrell, M., …Lewis, G. (2007). Socio-economic status in childhood and later alcohol use: A systematic review. Addiction, 102(10), 1546-1563.

Journal Article Type Review
Publication Date Oct 1, 2007
Journal Addiction
Print ISSN 0965-2140
Electronic ISSN 1360-0443
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 102
Issue 10
Pages 1546-1563
Keywords alcohol, alcoholism, alcohol-related disorders, review, social class, socio-economic factors
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Additional Information : This review was commissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) as part of its programme of research and innovative development projects, which it hopes will be of value to policy makers, practitioners and service users. There were two steering group meetings at which the results of the systematic review were discussed (members included Charlie Lloyd, JRF Research Manager). The facts presented and views expressed in this report, however, are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Foundation. The funders have had no role in the decision to submit this work for publication.