Examining the Relevance of Religious Affiliation and Migrant Status in the Protective Capacity of Religion against Adolescent Alcohol Use—Evidence from Tarragona (Spain)
- There may be differences among religions in their protective capacity. For instance, while there are reports indicating that Catholics consume more alcohol than Lutherans and, especially, Muslims (Kim-Spoon et al. 2014; Charro-Baena et al. 2019), there are also studies that do not observe differences in the protective capacity of different religions (Piko and Fitzpatrick 2004; Gmel et al. 2013; Queiroz et al. 2015). Likewise, the way how religion is practiced influences its protection capability (Lorch and Hughes 1985; Sinha et al. 2007; Gmel et al. 2013);
2.1. Descriptive Analysis of the Sample
2.2. Regression Analysis of Alcohol Consumption
- The sex and migrant status of both parents are not statistically significant. However, the academic level of the parents was significantly related to alcohol use, with an odds ratio (OR) of 1.579 (p = 0.0022);
- On the other hand, living with only one parent leads to an OR = 1.455 (p = 0.0031) for alcohol use and an OR = 1.655 (p < 0.0001) for alcohol abuse. Living without parents poses an even greater risk compared to living with only one parent or with both, as evidenced by an OR = 3.045 (p = 0.0002) for alcohol use and an OR = 3.273 (p < 0.0001) for alcohol abuse;
- Having a religious affiliation implies an OR<1 for alcohol consumption, but this effect is significant only in the case of the Catholic, Lutheran, or Muslim religions. These ORs suggest a protective effect of religion against alcohol consumption, which is statistically significant only for the Muslim religion (OR = 0.075, p < 0.0001 for USO and OR = 0.129, p < 0.0001 for ABUSO). We also observe a significant protective effect against alcohol use in the case of Catholicism (OR = 0.788, p = 0.0232).
- The sex variable once again does not have significance in alcohol consumption. Having two migrant parents is a significant risk factor for alcohol abuse (OR = 1.665, p = 0.0115). The academic status of parents is positively related to alcohol use (OR = 1.741, p = 0.0002);
- Living with only one parent generates significant odds ratios for alcohol use (OR = 1.521, p = 0.0008) and alcohol abuse (OR = 1.707, p < 0.0001). It is evident again that living without parents increases the risk of alcohol consumption compared to living with one or both parents. For alcohol use, the OR was 2.786 (p = 0.0005), and for alcohol abuse, the OR was 3.031 (p = 0.0001);
- Having a religious affiliation presents an OR = 0.682 (p = 0.0058) for alcohol use and an OR = 0.814 (p = 0.1702) for the frequency of getting drunk. This means that while the OR values suggest a protective capacity of religion against simple alcohol consumption, this does not seem to have the same effect on alcohol intoxication;
- The interaction of religiosity and sex is not particularly significant for alcohol use (OR = 1.436, p = 0.0662) or alcohol abuse (OR = 1.237, p = 0.3047);
- The interaction of religiosity with having two migrant parents is significant and protective. In the case of alcohol use, OR = 0.447 (p = 0.0018), while for alcohol abuse, OR = 0.380 (p = 0.0006).
- Sex remains nonsignificant. Having two migrant parents was found to facilitate alcohol abuse (OR = 1.672, p = 0.0108), and the academic status of parents was still positively related to alcohol use (OR = 1.547, p = 0.0037);
- Living with only one parent presents an OR = 1.469 (p = 0.0026) for alcohol use and OR = 1.656 (p < 0.0001) for alcohol abuse. Living without parents poses an even greater risk, with an OR = 2.902 (p = 0.0005) for alcohol use and an OR = 3.181 (p < 0.0001) for alcohol abuse;
- Having a religious affiliation presents an OR = 0.741 (p = 0.034) for alcohol use and OR = 0.837 (p = 0.367) for alcohol abuse;
- The interaction of religiosity and sex is not significant for alcohol use (OR = 1.386, p = 0.089) or alcohol abuse (OR = 1.185, p = 0.418);
- The interaction of religiosity with having two migrant parents still provides some protection against alcohol consumption, but to a lesser extent than when including Muslims in the sample. In the case of alcohol use, although it exists, it is not significant (OR = 0.613, p = 0.068), while for alcohol abuse, it also exists and is significant (OR = 0.470, p = 0.01).
- The analysis of odds ratios reveals that the Muslim religion exhibits a greater protective capacity than Christian religions such as Lutheran and Catholic, which aligns with other findings in Spain (Charro-Baena et al. 2019). Although the Catholic, Lutheran, and Muslim religions seem to show inhibitory effects on alcohol consumption, this is only clearly significant in the case of the Muslim religion. In fact, among these religions, Islam is the only one that explicitly and categorically rejects alcohol consumption. This aspect may provide a greater incentive for Muslims to have lower alcohol use, but it may also pose challenges in obtaining unbiased responses about alcohol consumption (Dotinga et al. 2002);
- The results of the regressions involving the RELIG variable lead us to conclude that having a religious faith does not have a significant protective effect against abuse. However, it does present a protective effect against simple alcohol consumption, which aligns with the findings of the mainstream literature. Thus, our findings are in line with studies by Park et al. (1998), Vargas-Valle and Martínez-Cañizales (2015), and Parsai et al. (2010). On the other hand, we did not find that the protective capacity of religion depended on sex, contrary to what has been suggested in various studies (Piko and Fitzpatrick 2004; Parenteau 2015);
- The fact that both parents are foreign, with the ethnic and academic differences that this circumstance may entail, significantly increases the protective capacity of religion, in line with the findings of Rote and Starks (2010). When we adjust this regression model for the entire sample, the inhibitory effect of religion is observed both for alcohol use and abuse, likely due to Islam being the religion with the highest protective capacity and predominantly practiced by adolescents whose parents are foreign. However, when we excluded observations related to Muslims, we again observed protection against alcohol consumption in the interaction between being religious and having two foreign parents, although we must acknowledge that this protection is less intense than when we considered the responses of Muslims. While the protective capacity is not significant in the case of alcohol use, it becomes significant again for alcohol abuse. This finding aligns with Curtis et al. (2018), who point out that various studies demonstrate that attachment to traditions from the country of origin, such as religion, has a protective effect against substance consumption. Our finding is consistent with the reports of Abebe et al. (2015) and Sarasa-Renedo et al. (2015), who observed similar trends in immigrants of non-European origin in Norway and Spain, respectively.
4. Materials and Methods
- The first variable is sex (SEX). This variable is the most common in the examined literature (Larrosa and Palomo 2010). SEX is a dichotomous variable, taking the value 0 (male) or 1 (female);
- The second variable considered is whether both parents are migrants (IMMIGRANT). This variable serves as a proxy for social class (Bartkowski and Xu 2007; Francis et al. 2019) and represents a non-native ethnicity (Parsai et al. 2010). IMMIGRANT takes the value 1 (if both parents were born outside of Spain) or 0 (otherwise). It has been demonstrated that, on the one hand, having a migrant background can serve as a potent stressor in adolescents due to the challenges associated with adapting to a new culture (van Dorp et al. 2021) and the additional issues that may be manifested, such as discrimination (Unger et al. 2014). This, in turn, can result in an increased tendency toward substance consumption (Parsai et al. 2010). Nevertheless, the findings in this regard within the literature are not unanimous. Several studies report the so-called immigrant paradox, that is, the fact that new immigrants show less risk-taking behavior and better health outcomes than their native counterparts (van Dorp et al. 2021). A common argument favorable to this finding is that greater ethnic pride and adherence to traditional family values are related to substance misuse (Curtis et al. 2018);
- The educational level of the parents is captured in the variable EDUC, which is constructed by aggregating the scores of responses C1 and C2 from Table 4 and then normalizing the result to the range [0, 1], by using EDUC = ((C1 + C2) − 2)/4;
- The last variables are related to the family configuration of the adolescent, which is often particularly relevant in explaining substance consumption. Unlike most studies, which differentiate only between adolescents who live with both parents and those who do not, we recognize the importance of distinguishing between those living with a single parent and those living with neither. Thus, we introduce two dichotomous variables. The first is ONLY_ONE_P, which takes the value 1 if the adolescent lives with only one parent and 0 otherwise. The second variable is NO_P, which takes the value 1 if the adolescent does not live with either parent and 0 otherwise. It is well known that family relationships and control have a decisive impact as risk factors for drinking alcohol and smoking tobacco (Sutherland and Shepherd 2001; Bjarnason et al. 2005; Gázquez-Linares et al. 2023).
- The dichotomous variables CATHOLIC, LUTHERAN, MUSLIM, ORTHODOX, and OTHER, which are used to model the religion of affiliation, and which take the value 1 if the adolescent belongs to the corresponding religious community and 0 otherwise;
- RELIG, which takes the value 1 if the adolescent claims to belong to any religious community and 0 otherwise;
- The dichotomous variable RELIG × SEX, which takes the value 1 if the surveyed person claims to belong to a religious community and is female and 0 otherwise. This variable quantifies the differential effect of sex on the perceived protective capacity of religion;
- The dichotomous variable RELIG × IMMIGRANT, which takes the value 1 if the surveyed person claims to belong to a religious community and both parents are migrants and 0 otherwise. This variable quantifies the differential effect of having two migrant parents on the perceived protective capacity of religion.
4.2. Data Analysis
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
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|Times||Never||1–2 times||3–5 times||6–9 times||10–19 times||20–39 times||≥40 times||NA|
|Both parents migrants||No|
|Academic level (mother)||Elementary|
|Academic level (father)||Elementary|
|I live with…||Both parents|
|Catholic||Lutheran||Muslim||Orthodox||Others||Declares Not to Be Religious|
|Model A |
|Model B |
|Model B |
(Sample without Muslims)
|RELIG × SEX||----||----||1.4342||1.237||1.386||1.185|
|RELIG × IMMIGRANT||----||----||0.447||0.380||0.613||0.470|
|Questions about Alcohol Consumption||Answers|
|USE: “How many times have you consumed an alcoholic beverage in the last 30 days?”|
ABUSE: “How many times have you been drunk in your life?”
7.—“40 times or more”
|Sex||0 = Boy, 1 = Girl.|
|“Where were your two parents born?”||0 = At least one of them (or both) in Spain. 1 = Both parents are foreigners|
C1 = “What is the educational level of your mother?”
C2 = “What is the educational level of your father?”
|0 = Elementary, 1 = High school 3 = University degree|
“I live with (choose the closest option)”
|1. Mother and father equally.|
2. Mother but not father.
3. Father but not mother.
4. Mother and her partner.
5. Father and his partner.
6. Grandparents and either father or mother.
7. Only grandparents.
8. Living with my friends.
9. Living alone.
10. My family configurations are not fixed
What is your confession?
|1 = Catholic|
2 = Lutheran
3 = Muslim
4 = Orthodox
5 = Other
6 = I do not belong to any religious community
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de Andrés-Sánchez, J.; Belzunegui-Eraso, A.; Fernández-Aliseda, S. Examining the Relevance of Religious Affiliation and Migrant Status in the Protective Capacity of Religion against Adolescent Alcohol Use—Evidence from Tarragona (Spain). Religions 2023, 14, 1182. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14091182
de Andrés-Sánchez J, Belzunegui-Eraso A, Fernández-Aliseda S. Examining the Relevance of Religious Affiliation and Migrant Status in the Protective Capacity of Religion against Adolescent Alcohol Use—Evidence from Tarragona (Spain). Religions. 2023; 14(9):1182. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14091182Chicago/Turabian Style
de Andrés-Sánchez, Jorge, Angel Belzunegui-Eraso, and Sonia Fernández-Aliseda. 2023. "Examining the Relevance of Religious Affiliation and Migrant Status in the Protective Capacity of Religion against Adolescent Alcohol Use—Evidence from Tarragona (Spain)" Religions 14, no. 9: 1182. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14091182