Employment Status, Depression, Drinking, and Alcohol Use Disorder in Puerto Rico

Raul Caetano, Patrice A C Vaeth, Britain Mills, Glorisa Canino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Background: Our aim was to examine the association between employment status, depression, drinking, binge drinking, and DSM-5 alcohol use disorder in Puerto Rico. Methods: Data are from a 2013 to 2014 household random sample of individuals 18 to 64 years of age in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Results: Bivariate analyses showed that depression was 5 times higher among unemployed males than among those employed full time (21% vs. 4%) and 2 times higher among unemployed females compared to those employed part time or full time (18% vs. 7% and 9%). Employment status was not associated with weekly volume of drinking, but nonparticipation in the workforce was protective against drinking (odds ratio [OR] = 2.17; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.03 to 4.57; p < 0.05) and binge drinking (OR = 0.62; 95% CI = 0.39 to 0.97; p < 0.05). This association could be due to the fact that those not in the work force may not be working due to sickness or disability. Male gender was a factor of risk for being a current drinker (OR = 2; 95% CI = 1.53 to 2.6; p < 0.001) and binge drinking (OR = 1.69; 95% CI = 1.29 to 2.2; p < 0.001). Male gender was protective against depression (OR = 0.32; 95% CI = 0.14 to 0.73; p < 0.01), but males employed only part time were almost 5 times more likely than females employed full time to be depressed (OR = 4.66; 95% CI = 1.25 to 17.38; p < 0.05). Conclusions: Employment status in Puerto Rico is associated with depression and with current drinking, but not with other alcohol-related outcomes. Perhaps Puerto Rico is a "wet" environment, where drinking is already at a relatively high level that is not affected by employment status. Perhaps the chronic high rate of unemployment in the island has also created familial (e.g., support) and personal level accommodations (e.g., participation in the informal economy) that do not include increased drinking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)806-815
Number of pages10
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016


  • Depression
  • Drinking
  • Employment Status
  • Puerto Rico

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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