Saturday, September 27, 2008

More Hispanics means more alcoholics: In America, drunken bums bring up the image of a white or a black man, at least it does in my mind. This might have something to do with the fact that in my town, I get hit up constantly for money at gas stations from mostly blacks and a few whites.

This blog has shown that many stereotypes are rooted in fact, but not all of them. Centers for Disease Control data show that the image of the black drunk is false. It should be replaced with the image of the Mexican borracho.

I calculated the average number of people who died from alcoholic liver disease per 100,000 total population for the years 1999-2001 for all U.S. counties with more than 250,000 people. (I averaged over three years since these are rare events). Next, I calculated the Pearson correlations between this variable and percent Hispanic, percent black, and 14 other variables:

Pearson correlations, N = 220

percent Hispanic/alcoholism .40**
percent black/alcoholism -.09

**p < .01, two-tailed test

More Hispanics means more alcoholics, but not so for blacks. Of the 16 independent variables only the percent unemployed was more strongly related to the rate of death due to alcoholism (.41).

I'm not sure exactly why, but Hispanic alcoholism is more hidden than for blacks or whites. Families must keep members off the streets. We don't see it on our streets as much, and this explains the lack of a stereotype.

Let's leave those immigration doors wide open: everyone loves a drunk!


  1. Veracitor9:40 PM

    "Hispanics" with American Indian ancestry (including most Mexicans) are much more likely to carry genes for weak variants of the famous alcohol dehydrogenase enzymes than either whites or African-Americans. This makes them "cheap drunks" and more susceptible to somatic damage from alcohol. I do not suggest that this explains the psychological phenomenon of alcoholism, but it certainly explains in part why Hispanics, like American Indians, display so much brain, liver, and other damage from the alcohol they do ingest.

    Anyone with a smattering of biomedical knowledge, or who has watched a few old cowboy movies, should know that Mexicans are martyrs to alcohol.

  2. Long Island's local rag, er, newspaper, Newsday, has a "Wall of Shame" feature showing the mug shots of all DWI arrests in Nassau County. Nassau is the more fully urbanized part of Long Island and has a population of about 1.3 million. I can't link directly to the feature but you can find it on the "Photos and Multimedia" section of the home page.

    My impression is that there seems to be a disproportionately high percentage of Hispanics among the arrestees. Nassau (and neighboring Suffolk County, where many arrestees live) is perhaps 10% Hispanic.

  3. Probably the more Indian than Spanish you are, the more likely you are to become an alcoholic, but also the more likely you are to have a reticent, withdrawn personality. So, Mexican American drunks probably tend to be shy and avoid the spotlight.

  4. Off topic, but the AJC released a poll late last week showing Obama is still having trouble with Jews.

    Obama appears to have a particular problem with Jews under 40:

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