Drinking Mothers, Schooling Kids: The Effects of Maternal Alcohol Consumption on Later Educational Attainment
Houston, Stacey LaMar II
Past literature finds that maternal drinking leads to less than optimal outcomes for youth. However, past literature also finds that the presence of a non-problem drinking parent can buffer or shield children from the impaired parenting practices of a problem-drinking parent. While some scholars have noted that the presence of a non-problem drinking parent can serve as a buffer, the effects of alcohol consumption can be far-reaching, impacting both parents and, potentially, the household composition. I utilize data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth young adult sample (N=781) to investigate whether the alcohol consumption of young adults’ mothers contributes to the young adults’ later educational attainment, an underexplored child outcome in parental alcohol consumption literature. The results indicate that higher levels of drinking by respondents’ mothers over a ten-year period are related to fewer years of schooling attained by the respondents. However, I do not find that the presence of another parent buffers the effects of maternal alcohol consumption. Instead, the results of this project suggest that higher levels of maternal drinking decreases the likelihood of living in a two-parent household, which, in turn, results in fewer years of education obtained by respondents.