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Binge Drinking Linked to Unemployment for Women

Women who binge drink are more likely than men to experience long-term unemployment, claims a new study.

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Are the consequences greater for women?
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By McCarton Ackerman

08/17/12

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It may seem obvious that drinking heavily could make it hard to hold down a job, but a new study from Sweden claims that binge drinking specifically among women is linked to long-term unemployment. Researchers at the Karolinka Institute analyzed data from two surveys, one from 2002 and one from 2007, that looked at habits of more than 13,000 Swedes who were unemployed or on leave. Study participants were between 20-59 years old and 55% of them were women. Binge drinking in the survey was defined as consuming more than 12 ounces of spirits in 2002, but was redefined in 2007 as six or more drinks, or roughly eight ounces of spirits. Both male and female binge drinkers shared the same initial characteristics of being younger, and having fewer educational qualifications—although men showed a greater history of previous unemployment. However, the female binge drinkers were found to have a much higher likelihood of long-term unemployment than men. “For women, binge drinking once a week or more as a predictor was associated with long-term unemployment,” says study co-author Mona C. Backhans, Ph.D.. "These gender differences reflect the fact that frequent binge drinking is probably a stronger marker for problem drinking for women, as it less common, and not 'normalized' to the extent that it is for men." However, Backhans also admitted the study's measure may be biased because the definition of binge drinking was the same for both men and women, even though women's tolerance levels are traditionally lower.

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