Using Generalized Estimating Equations to Analyze Alcohol Consumption and Job Displacement among Older Workers




Patel, Nita


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The objectives of this dissertation were to compare differences in alcohol consumption among the older workers (aged 51 to 61 years) who have experienced job displacement compared to those who remain continuously employed. Generalized estimating equations were used to model this relationship using longitudinal data from the Health and Retirement Study from 1992 to 2006. Approximately 39% of respondents had died during the study period. We analyzed four models. One model excluded data for deceased respondents. Another model retained data for deceased respondents. For the remaining two models, data was imputed using multiple imputation by chained equations. Data was imputed for only the predictors in one imputation, imputed for both the dependent variable and the predictors in the second imputation. All models were weighted and adjusted for key sociodemographic variables. The results of this study show that being continuously employed, compared to experiencing job displacement, has a protective effect on the onset of alcohol consumption. Older workers who were not displaced were less likely to report consuming alcohol compared to those who had been displaced. This finding remained statistical significant even after adjusting for key sociodemographic variables. Complete case analysis and observed sample models provided biased estimates (i.e. wider confidence intervals, smaller p values) compared to the two multiple imputation models. Our findings have important public health implications. Older workers are likely to have varied participation in the labor market. They are likely to be more experienced and hold senior or management positions, thereby earning higher wages. They may be at a higher risk of layoff during uncertain economic times, such as a recession. The effects of alcohol consumption among older individuals have been shown to be negative and particularly harmful, especially in terms of ethanol toxicity. Additional studies are needed to examine the health effects of late onset of drinking among older Americans.