Minorities’ Diminished Returns of Family Socioeconomic Status on Youth Peers’ Tobacco Use

Document Type : Original Article


1 Charles R. Drew University

2 Marginalization-related Diminished Returns Los Angeles, CA 90059, USA.

3 Department of Family Medicine, Charles R Drew University of Medicine and Science, Los Angeles, CA 90059, USA



Background: Although high socioeconomic status (SES) is known to be associated with low-risk behaviors, the effects of high family SES may be weaker for racial and ethnic minority than majority youth. Aim: We compared the association between family SES and peers’ tobacco use risk between majority and minority youth in the US.
Methods: We used four years of follow up data from the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH-Youth) study. All participants were 12 to 17 years old at baseline and were successfully followed for four years. 4652 Non-Latino and Latino White and Black youth were enrolled. Outcome was peers’ tobacco use risk at year four, treated as a continuous measure. Predictor was baseline parental SES, as a proxy of family SES. Moderator was racial and ethnic minority status. Covariates were age, gender, and family structure at baseline.
Results: Our linear regressions in the pooled sample showed that higher family SES at baseline was associated with a lower level of peers’ tobacco use risk at year four, however this association was weaker for minority than majority youth. Our stratified models also showed that higher family SES was associated with a lower level of peers’ tobacco use risk for majority but not for ethnic minority youth.
Conclusion: The presumed protective effect of high family SES against peers’ tobacco use risk varies between diverse ethnic groups of youth. Future research should test the role of school and neighborhood climate on weakening the protective effects of family SES for minority than majority youth. The role of high-risk schools and neighborhood environments and other contextual conditions should be tested in future multi-level research.