Journal of Public Health

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 132–138

Associations between mother’s level of education and offspring’s smoking and alcohol use in adulthood: a 28-year longitudinal follow-up study

Original Article



The aim of this study was to examine the association between changes in mother’s education level during early childrearing years with offspring’s tobacco and alcohol (TA) use in adulthood. It was hypothesised that use of TA is lower among offspring whose mothers improve their level of education compared with offspring for whom mother’s education level does not increase.

Subjects and methods

Information on TA use among 1,015 adults (from a national survey in 1998; response rate 72.7%) was linked with information on their mother’s education levels recorded in the National Education Register from 28 to 8 years earlier (mother’s education in 1970 and change in level of education from 1970 to 1990).


Multiple logistic regression revealed an inverse association between increase in maternal education level and risk of high alcohol use among female offspring. Higher level of mother’s education measured in 1970 was associated with lower risk of daily smoking and lower risk of moderate and high levels of alcohol use among male and female offspring.


Low level of tobacco and alcohol consumption among adult offspring is influenced by mother’s level of education. Research on social inequalities in health behaviour should include more attention to the possible effects of mother’s social mobility during childrearing years.


Education Tobacco Alcohol Mothers Adult offspring Longitudinal 


  1. Babor T, Caetano R et al (2003) Alcohol: no ordinary commodity. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  2. Bandura A, Barbaranelli C et al (2001) Self–efficacy beliefs as shapers of children’s aspirations and career trajectories. Child Dev 72(1):187–206CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Bolin K, Lindgren B (2004) Rökning – produktionsbortfall och sjukvårdskostnader (Smoking – loss of productivity and disability expenditures), Public Health Institute of Sweden: 69Google Scholar
  4. Brook J (1999) The onset of marijuana use from preadolescence and early adolescence to young adulthood. Dev Psychopathol 11(4):901–914CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Derzon JH, Lipsey MW (1999) Predicting tobacco use to age 18: a synthesis of longitudinal research. Addiction 94(7):995–1006CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Desai S (1998) Maternal education and child health: Is there a strong causal relationship? Demography 35(1):71–81PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. DHSA (2005) The Challenge of the Gradient. Oslo, Directorate for Health and Social Affairs: 38Google Scholar
  8. Fagan P, Brook JS et al (2005) Parental occupation, education, and smoking as predictors of offspring tobacco use in adulthood: a longitudinal study. Addict Behav 30(3):517–529CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Fitzmaurice G, Laird N et al (2004) Applied longitudinal analysis, John Wiley & Sons IncGoogle Scholar
  10. Fleming C, Kim H et al (2002) Family processes for children in early elementary school as predictors of smoking initiation. J Adolesc Health 30(3):184–189CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Galea S, Nandi A et al (2004) The social epidemiology of substance use. Epidemiol Rev 26:36–52CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Gilman SE, Abrams DB et al (2003) Socioeconomic status over the life course and stages of cigarette use: initiation, regular use, and cessation. J Epidemiol Community Health 57(10):802–808CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Greenlund K (1995) Impact of fathers education and parental smoking status on smoking–behavior in young adults. Am J Epidemiol 142(10):1029–1033PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Hemmingsson T, Lundberg I et al (1999). The roles of social class of origin, achieved social class and intergenerational social mobility in explaining social–class inequalities in alcoholism among young men. Soc Sci Med 49(8):1051–1059CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Hope S, Power C et al (1998) The relationship between parental separation in childhood and problem drinking in adulthood. Addiction 93(4):505–514PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Jefferis B, Graham H et al (2003) Cigarette consumption and socio–economic circumstances in adolescence as predictors of adult smoking. Addiction 98(12):1765–1772CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Joseph K, Kramer M (1996) Review of the evidence on fetal and early childhood antecedents of adult chronic disease. Epidemiol Rev 18(2):159–174Google Scholar
  18. Karvonen S (1999) Social mobility and health related behaviours in young people. J Epidemiol Community Health 53(4):211–217PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Keating D, Hertzman C (1999). Developmental health and the wealth of nations. Social, biological and educational dynamics. The Guilford Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  20. Leino M, Raitakari O et al (1999) Associations of education with cardiovascular risk factors in young adults: the cardiovascular risk in young finns study. Int J Epidemiol 28(4):667–675CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Longva S (2001) Norwegian Standard Classification of Education. Official Statistic of Norway. S. Norway. Oslo, Statistic Norway: 189Google Scholar
  22. Metzner H, Harburg E et al (1977) Early life social incongruities, health risk factors and chronic disease. J Chronic Dis 30:225–245CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Oygard L, Klepp KI et al (1995) Parental and peer influences on smoking among young adults: ten–year follow–up of the Oslo youth study participants. Addiction 90(4):561–570CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Paavola M (2004) Smoking from adolescence to adulthood – The effects of parental and own socioeconomic status. Eur J Public Health 14(4):417–421CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Pulkki L, Kivimaki M et al (2003) Contribution of socioeconomic status to the association between hostility and cardiovascular risk behaviors: a prospective cohort study. Am J Epidemiol 158(8):736–742CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. RDoH (2003) Prescription for a healthier Norway. Oslo, Royal Department of Health: 179Google Scholar
  27. Roberts L (2001) Do smokers pay for their sin? Utilisation of the social welfare system and distribution of costs and benefits among smokers and non–smokers in Sweden. Department of Community Medicine. Lund, University of Lund: 116Google Scholar
  28. Tyas SL, Pederson LL (1998). Psychosocial factors related to adolescent smoking: a critical review of the literature. Tob Control 7(4):409–420PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. WHO, Murray C et al (2002) The World Health Report – Reducing Risks, Promoting Healthy Life. B. Campanini. Geneva, World Health OrganisationGoogle Scholar
  30. Wolfinger N (1998) The effects of parental divorce on adult tobacco and alcohol consumption. J Health Soc Behav 39(3):254–269CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research Centre for Health PromotionUniversity of BergenBergenNorway

Personalised recommendations