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Intergenerational influences on early alcohol use: Independence from the problem behavior pathway

  • David C. R. Kerr (a1) (a2), Deborah M. Capaldi (a1), Katherine C. Pears (a1) and Lee D. Owen (a1)


Conduct problems are a general risk factor for adolescent alcohol use. However, their role in relation to alcohol-specific risk pathways of intergenerational transmission of alcohol use is not well understood. Further, the roles of alcohol-specific contextual influences on children's early alcohol use have been little examined. In a 20-year prospective, multimethod study of 83 fathers and their 125 children, we considered the predictors of child alcohol use by age 13 years. The predictors included fathers' adolescent antisocial behavior and alcohol use, both parents' adult alcohol use, norms about and encouragement of child use, parental monitoring, child-reported exposure to intoxicated adults, and parent-reported child externalizing behaviors. Path models supported an association between fathers' adolescent alcohol use and children's use (β = 0.17) that was not better explained by concurrent indicators of fathers' and children's general problem behavior. Fathers' and mothers' adult alcohol use uniquely predicted child use, and exposure to intoxicated adults partially mediated the latter path. Other family risk mechanisms were not supported. However, parental alcohol use and child alcohol use were linked in expected ways with family contextual conditions known to set the stage for alcohol use problems later in adolescence.


Corresponding author

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: David C. R. Kerr, Oregon Social Learning Center, Eugene, OR 97401; E-mail:


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Intergenerational influences on early alcohol use: Independence from the problem behavior pathway

  • David C. R. Kerr (a1) (a2), Deborah M. Capaldi (a1), Katherine C. Pears (a1) and Lee D. Owen (a1)


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