Sociodemographic Characteristics Associated with Alcohol Use Among Low-Income Mexican Older Adults

Published in: Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, 2016

Posted on on July 12, 2016

by Emma Aguila, Erick G. Guerrero, William A. Vega


Despite increasing concern about the quality of life of older adults, little is known about characteristics associated with health risk behaviors among older adults in middle-income countries. This study relied on unique longitudinal data to examine the relationship between sociodemographic characteristics and alcohol use among low-income older adults, one of the fastest-growing populations worldwide.


This multilevel longitudinal analysis involved three waves of data (2008–2010) from 2,351 adults aged 70 or older in Yucatán, Mexico. Multilevel regressions models were used to test interactions among gender, speaking Mayan (indigenous language), and socioeconomic status to understand conditions associated with the odds of current alcohol use and the frequency and amount of alcohol use.


Half of the participants in this study report consuming alcohol in their lifetime, 21.58 % of whom were current alcohol users. Older adults reported consuming alcohol 1.15 days a week and 1.60 drinks per day. Speaking Mayan was associated with lower odds of current alcohol use. However, men who spoke Mayan reported higher odds of drinking alcohol compared to women and non-Mayan (Spanish) speakers. The positive relationship between socioeconomic status and alcohol use was also moderated by gender (male).


Findings show that older and Mayan populations had lower odds of drinking in Yucatán, Mexico, whereas men were at highest risk of drinking alcohol, after adjusting for ethnic culture and socioeconomic status. Implications for health policy and epidemiological studies on substance use among older adults residing in low-income settings are discussed.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.