Ethnicity and drinking in northern california: A comparison among whites, blacks and hispanics

Raul Caetano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


This research reports the drinking patterns and alcohol problems in three ethnic groups of the U.S. population: Whites, Blacks and Hispanics. Respondents were sampled randomly from the general population of three counties of the San Francisco Bay Area, in northern California. Both Black and Hispanic females have higher rates of abstention than White females, but at the aggregate level male's drinking patterns are similar across ethnic groups. However, among males the patterning of drinking and the prevalence of alcohol problems by age change dramatically according to ethnicity. Among White males drinking and problems decrease abruptly from the twenties to the thirties, as has been traditionally found in the U.S. general population. Among Black males the trend is exactly the opposite of that for Whites, while among Hispanic males there also is a decrease but not quite so large as that for Whites, and the frequency of heavy drinking and problems is always higher than for the other two groups. The types of problem reported by respondents do not vary by ethnicity but the sociodemographic correlates of both number of drinks consumed per month and number of alcohol problems do differ among the ethnic groups. Both Hispanics and Blacks have more liberal attitudes toward alcohol use than Whites. These results suggest that Whites, Blacks and Hispanics each have a characteristic way of using alcoholic beverages. The less restrictive views towards alcohol use in the Black and Hispanic culture, as well as the different patterning of drinking and problems by age, are of importance for prevention: Whites, Blacks and Hispanics have different groups of people at risk for developing alcohol problems and prevention should be planned accordingly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-44
Number of pages14
JournalAlcohol and Alcoholism
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1984

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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