Prices, Alcohol Use Initiation and Heavy Episodic Drinking Among Chilean Youth
To examine the association between alcohol prices and age of initiation of alcohol use and the association between age of alcohol use initiation and heavy episodic alcohol use (HED) among adolescents in Chile.
The study estimated discrete‐time hazard models using retrospective data and generalized ordered probit models with repeated cross‐sectional data.
A total of 248 336 urban youth who attended secondary school between 2003 and 2015 and self‐reported ever having tried alcohol.
The researchers created alcohol use histories from self‐reported responses of age, age of alcohol use initiation and year/month of survey. From two self‐reported responses, a four‐category ordinal variable of heavy episodic drinking was created: none, one to two, three to nine and more than 10 HED episodes in the past 30 days. A monthly measure of real alcohol prices was constructed using the all‐items and alcohol component of the Consumer Price Index compiled by Chile’s statistical agency, the Instituto Nacional de Estadísticas.
First, the study found negative, statistically significant and policy‐meaningful associations between alcohol prices and the age of alcohol use initiation. The estimated price elasticity of delay was −0.99 [95% confidence interval (CI) = –1.30, −0.69]. A 10% increase in real alcohol prices was associated with delayed alcohol use initiation of approximately 6.6 months. Secondly, it was found that youth who had started consuming alcohol at a later age had statistically significant and substantially lower probabilities of having reported HED during the previous month. For example, youth who started consuming alcohol at 16 were 4.9 (95% CI = 4.2–5.6) percentage points more likely to have reported no HED in the previous month relative to youth who started consuming alcohol when aged 12 years or younger.
Increasing the price of alcohol products may delay alcohol initiation among young people in Chile. Chilean youth who start consuming alcohol later may engage in less risky alcohol use practices.