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The Formation of a Socioeconomic Disparity: A Case Study of Cocaine and Marijuana Use in the 1990s (

The Formation of a Socioeconomic Disparity: A Case Study of Cocaine and Marijuana Use in the 1990s (

  1. Jatelka
    American Journal of Preventative Medicine 2007 June; 32(6 Suppl): S171–S176

    Richard Miech and Howard Chilcoat

    Background: Around the year 1990 the reputation of cocaine use changed from glamorous to undesirable and at the same time a socioeconomic disparity in cocaine use emerged. This study examined: (1) whether the socioeconomic disparity was created by differential incidence, differential cessation, or both; (2) whether a socioeconomic disparity also developed in marijuana use; and (3) whether disparities formed across race, Hispanic ethnicity, and/or gender.


    Methods:The analyses center on 6544 respondents aged 14-21 in 1979 in the National Longitudinal Survey of 1979 (NLSY79) who provided information on past-year use of powder cocaine and marijuana use before and after 1990: specifically, in 1984, 1988, 1992, 1994, and 1998.


    Results: Both differential incidence and differential cessation across education contributed to the formation of the socioeconomic disparity in cocaine use, although differential cessation played a more influential role in this cohort. A socioeconomic disparity in marijuana use also created at about the same time. No emerging disparities by race, Hispanic ethnicity, or gender were observed.


    Conclusions: This case study suggests that the redefinition of a health behavior as unhealthy will result in a socioeconomic disparity in the behavior across socioeconomic strata as a result of both differential incidence and cessation, but disparities will not necessarily form by race, ethnicity, or gender