The Role of Parental Control and Support in Declining Adolescent Drinking: A Multi-Level Study Across 30 European Countries
Adolescent alcohol use has declined in many high-income countries since the early 2000s. It has been suggested that changing parenting practices may have contributed to the decline. However, previous studies investigating parenting have focused on single countries and have provided conflicting evidence. This study tested the association between changes in individual- and population-level parental control and parental support and changes in past month adolescent drinking.
A total of 271,823 adolescents aged 15–16 years, from 30 European countries between 2003 and 2015 were included in this study. The key independent variables were adolescent reports of parental control and parental support. The outcome measure was a dichotomous measure of any alcohol use in the 30 days before the survey, referred as past month alcohol use. Aggregated measures of parenting variables were used to estimate between-country and within-country effects of parenting on adolescent alcohol use. Data were analysed using three-level hierarchical linear probability methods.
At the individual-level, this study found a negative association between the two parental measures, i.e. parental control (β = −0.003 and 95% CI = −0.021 to 0.017) and parental support (β = −0.008 and 95% CI = −0.010 to 0.006) and past month alcohol use. This suggests adolescents whose parents exert higher control and provide more support tend to use alcohol less. At a population level, the study did not find any evidence of association on between-country and within-country parenting changes and past month alcohol use.
It is unlikely that changes in parental control or support at the population-level have contributed to the decline in alcohol use among adolescents in 30 European countries.