Relative deprivation and risky behaviors

Ana I. Balsa, Michael T. French, Tracy L. Regan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Relative deprivation has been associated with lower social and job satisfaction as well as adverse health outcomes. Using Add Health data, we examine whether a student's relative socioeconomic status (SES) has a direct effect on substance use. We advance the existing literature by addressing selection and simultaneity bias and by focusing on a reference group likely to exert the most influence on the respondents. We find that relative deprivation is positively associated with alcohol consumption, drinking to intoxication, and smoking for adolescent males, but not for females. Alternative variable definitions and robustness checks confirm these findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)446-471
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Human Resources
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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