Publications

Couplesí Alcohol Use in Middle and Later Life: Stability and Mutual Influence

Objective:Wives and husbands may influence one another?s alcohol use, but little is known about within-couple patterns of alcohol consumption over time during midlife and later life. Drawing from a nationally representative U.S. sample of middle-aged and older married couples, we examined individual stability and partner influence in alcohol use across a 16-year period.Method:The analytic sample comprised 1,257 married couples age 40 and older who completed nine waves of the Health and Retirement Study (1996?2012). Dyadic multilevel models were estimated to simultaneously examine the stability of one?s own alcohol use (number of drinks per occasion and per week) over time as well as whether partner drinking predicted subsequent alcohol use within couples. Models controlled for marital duration.Results:Wives? and husbands? own prior alcohol use positively predicted alcohol use across waves, demonstrating individual stability in drinking patterns. Partners? alcohol use also positively predicted wives? and husbands? subsequent alcohol use, revealing partner influence in drinking patterns. Both stability and influence effects were stronger for husbands than for wives.Conclusions:This study provides evidence of stability and mutual influence in long-term patterns of alcohol use within mid- and late-life married couples. Findings highlight the interdependence between spouses and indicate that partners? drinking should be considered when examining men?s and women?s alcohol use over time.; Objective:Wives and husbands may influence one another?s alcohol use, but little is known about within-couple patterns of alcohol consumption over time during midlife and later life. Drawing from a nationally representative U.S. sample of middle-aged and older married couples, we examined individual stability and partner influence in alcohol use across a 16-year period.Method:The analytic sample comprised 1,257 married couples age 40 and older who completed nine waves of the Health and Retirement Study (1996?2012). Dyadic multilevel models were estimated to simultaneously examine the stability of one?s own alcohol use (number of drinks per occasion and per week) over time as well as whether partner drinking predicted subsequent alcohol use within couples. Models controlled for marital duration.Results:Wives? and husbands? own prior alcohol use positively predicted alcohol use across waves, demonstrating individual stability in drinking patterns. Partners? alcohol use also positively predicted wives? and husbands? subsequent alcohol use, revealing partner influence in drinking patterns. Both stability and influence effects were stronger for husbands than for wives.Conclusions:This study provides evidence of stability and mutual influence in long-term patterns of alcohol use within mid- and late-life married couples. Findings highlight the interdependence between spouses and indicate that partners? drinking should be considered when examining men?s and women?s alcohol use over time.