Associations of Social Capital With Binge Drinking in a National Sample of Adults: The Importance of Neighborhoods and Networks
While considerable research on adult binge alcohol use has focused on social influences, the potential role of social capital has been largely overlooked. This study examines the role of social capital, assessed in terms of both neighborhood and social network characteristics, in understanding adult binge alcohol use.
Adults ages 30–80 were randomly drawn from the RAND American Life Panel and completed an online survey (analytic sample n = 1383). The main predictor variables were neighborhood cohesion, neighborhood order, and social network density. Associations of social capital with past month binge alcohol use (any, number of days) were examined, controlling for demographic characteristics.
Zero-inflated negative binominal regression analysis indicated that any binge alcohol use was more likely among adults who lived in highly ordered neighborhoods and who had denser social networks but was negatively associated with neighborhood cohesion. However, binge alcohol use was more frequent among those who lived in neighborhoods lacking order and who had sparser social networks, but had no association with neighborhood cohesion. Age was not found to moderate associations of social capital with binge drinking.
Given that the associations of social capital with adult binge alcohol use behavior appear to differ by level of influence and type of alcohol use behavior, there is a need to gain a more nuanced understanding of these complex associations, including the mechanisms through which they operate.