Population Research and Policy Review

, Volume 32, Issue 3, pp 325–352 | Cite as

Nondrinker Mortality Risk in the United States

  • Richard G. Rogers
  • Patrick M. Krueger
  • Richard Miech
  • Elizabeth M. Lawrence
  • Robert Kemp
Article

Abstract

The literature has shown that people who do not drink alcohol are at greater risk for death than light to moderate drinkers, yet the reasons for this remain largely unexplained. We examine whether variation in people’s reasons for nondrinking explains the increased mortality. Our data come from the 1988–2006 National Health Interview Survey Linked Mortality File (N = 41,076 individuals age 21 and above, of whom 10,421 died over the follow-up period). The results indicate that nondrinkers include several different groups that have unique mortality risks. Among abstainers and light drinkers the risk of mortality is the same as light drinkers for a subgroup who report that they do not drink because of their family upbringing, and moral/religious reasons. In contrast, the risk of mortality is higher than light drinkers for former drinkers who cite health problems or who report problematic drinking behaviors. Our findings address a notable gap in the literature and may inform social policies to reduce or prevent alcohol abuse, increase health, and lengthen life.

Keywords

Alcohol Nondrinkers Abstainers Infrequent drinkers Mortality Survival NHIS 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard G. Rogers
    • 1
  • Patrick M. Krueger
    • 2
    • 3
  • Richard Miech
    • 2
  • Elizabeth M. Lawrence
    • 1
  • Robert Kemp
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Sociology and Population ProgramIBS, University of Colorado BoulderBoulderUSA
  2. 2.Department of Health and Behavioral SciencesUniversity of Colorado DenverDenverUSA
  3. 3.Department of SociologyUniversity of Colorado DenverDenverUSA

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