Intersections of poverty, race/ethnicity, and sex: alcohol consumption and adverse outcomes in the United States

Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2017 May;52(5):515-524. doi: 10.1007/s00127-017-1362-4. Epub 2017 Mar 27.


We examine whether intersectionality theory-which formalizes the notion that adverse health outcomes owing to having a marginalized social status, identity, or characteristic, may be magnified for individuals with an additional marginalized social status, identity, or characteristic-can be applied using quantitative methods to describe the differential effects of poverty on alcohol consumption across sex and race/ethnicity. Using the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions, we analyze longitudinal data from Black, Hispanic, and White drinkers (n = 21,140) to assess multiplicative interactions between poverty, as defined by the US Census Bureau, sex, and race/ethnicity, on adverse alcohol outcomes. Findings indicated that the effect of poverty on the past-year incidence of heavy episodic drinking was stronger among Black men and Black women in comparison to men and women of other racial/ethnic groups. Poverty reduction programs that are culturally informed may help reduce racial/ethnic disparities in the adverse outcomes of alcohol consumption.

Keywords: Alcohol; Health disparities; Intersectionality theory; Race/ethnicity; Social determinants of health.

MeSH terms

  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data*
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology*
  • Continental Population Groups / statistics & numerical data*
  • Ethnic Groups / statistics & numerical data*
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Hispanic Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Poverty / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sex Distribution
  • United States / epidemiology