Journal of Family and Economic Issues

, Volume 35, Issue 4, pp 464–476 | Cite as

Sinners or Saints? Preachers’ Kids and Risky Health Behaviors

  • Jason J. Delaney
  • John V. Winters
Original Paper


How do parents influence adolescent risky behavior? In this paper, we focus on a unique population: children of the clergy, more commonly known as preachers’ kids (PKs). We used data on risky behavior among American adolescents from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 Cohort and used latent variable and zero-inflated count models to analyze the effect of being a PK on both uptake and intensity of use of alcohol, cigarettes, marijuana, and other drugs. We found that being a PK significantly reduced alcohol use. This effect came exclusively from a reduction in the probability of any alcohol use and this increased abstinence among children of the clergy persisted into adulthood. We found no significant effects of being a PK on cigarette uptake or intensity of use but some evidence of a negative PK effect on the uptake of marijuana and other drugs.


Preacher’s kid Religion Risky behavior Alcohol Tobacco Substance use 

JEL Classification

I19 J13 K42 Z12 


  1. Allman, T. J. (2007). An analysis of the stereotypes of preacher’s kids and its application on their spouses. Theses, Dissertations and Capstones. Paper 13. Retrieved from
  2. Amoateng, A. Y., & Bahr, S. J. (1986). Religion, family, and adolescent drug use. Sociological Perspectives, 29(1), 53–76. Retrieved from Scholar
  3. Antecol, H., & Bedard, K. (2007). Does single parenthood increase the probability of teenage promiscuity, substance use, and crime? Journal of Population Economics, 20(1), 55–71. doi: 10.1007/s00148-005-0019-x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Argys, L. M., Rees, D. I., Averett, S. L., & Witoonchart, B. (2006). Birth order and risky adolescent behavior. Economic Inquiry, 44(2), 215–233. doi: 10.1093/ei/cbj011.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Averett, S., Argys, L., & Rees, D. (2011). Older siblings and adolescent risky behavior: Does parenting play a role? Journal of Population Economics, 24(3), 957–978. doi: 10.1007/s00148-009-0276-1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Barnes, G. M., Reifman, A. S., Farrell, M. P., & Dintcheff, B. A. (2000). The effects of parenting on the development of adolescent alcohol misuse: A six-wave latent growth model. Journal of Marriage and Family, 62(1), 175–186. doi: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2000.00175.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Baumrind, D. (1991). The influence of parenting style on adolescent competence and substance use. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 11(1), 56–95. doi: 10.1177/0272431691111004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Becker, G. S., & Murphy, K. M. (1988). A theory of rational addiction. Journal of Political Economy, 96(4), 675–700. Retrieved from Scholar
  9. Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The ecology of human development: Experiments by nature and design. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Cameron, A. C., & Trivedi, P. K. (2005). Microeconometrics methods and applications. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cawley, J., & Ruhm, C. J. (2011). The economics of risky health behaviors (IZA Discussion Paper No. 5728). Bonn: Forschunginstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit. Retrieved from
  12. Chiswick, B. R., & Mirtcheva, D. M. (2013). Religion and child health: Religious affiliation, importance, and attendance and health status among American youth. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 34(1), 120–140. doi: 10.1007/s10834-012-9312-5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Christakis, N. A., & Fowler, J. H. (2007). The spread of obesity in a large social network over 32 years. New England Journal of Medicine, 357(4), 370–379. doi: 10.1056/NEJMsa066082.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Clark, A. E., & Lohéac, Y. (2007). “It wasn’t me, it was them!” Social influence in risky behavior by adolescents. Journal of Health Economics, 26(4), 763–784. doi: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2006.11.005.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Cobb-Clark, D. A., & Tekin, E. (2011). Fathers and youth’s delinquent behavior (National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper Series, No. 17507) Retrieved from
  16. Ellison, C. G., & Levin, J. S. (1998). The religion-health connection: Evidence, theory, and future directions. Health Education & Behavior, 25(6), 700–720. doi: 10.1177/109019819802500603.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Fehr, E., & Fischbacher, U. (2002). Why social preferences matter—The impact of non-selfish motives on competition, cooperation and incentives. The Economic Journal, 112(478), C1–C33. doi: 10.1111/1468-0297.00027.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Fichter, J. H. (1992). Wives of Catholic clergy. New York: Sheed & Ward.Google Scholar
  19. Fischhoff, B. (1992). Risk taking: A developmental perspective. In J. F. Yates (Ed.), Risk-taking behavior (pp. 133–162). Wiley series in human performance and cognition. Oxford: Wiley.Google Scholar
  20. Fischhoff, B., Parker, A. M., Bruin, W. B. D., Downs, J., Palmgren, C., Dawes, R., et al. (2000). Teen expectations for significant life events. The Public Opinion Quarterly, 64(2), 189–205. Retrieved from
  21. Fletcher, J. M. (2010). Social interactions and smoking: Evidence using multiple student cohorts, instrumental variables, and school fixed effects. Health Economics, 19(4), 466–484. doi: 10.1002/hec.1488.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Frederick, S., Loewenstein, G., & O’Donoghue, T. (2002). Time discounting and time preference: A critical review. Journal of Economic Literature, 40(2), 351–401. doi: 10.1257/002205102320161311.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Furby, L., & Beyth-Marom, R. (1992). Risk taking in adolescence: A decision-making perspective. Developmental Review, 12(1), 1–44. doi: 10.1016/0273-2297(92)90002-J.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Gruber, J. (Ed.). (2001a). Risky behavior among youths: An economic analysis. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  25. Gruber, J. (2001b). Youth smoking in the 1990’s: Why did it rise and what are the long-run implications? The American Economic Review, 91(2), 85–90. doi: 10.1257/aer.91.2.85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hadaway, C. K., Elifson, K. W., & Petersen, D. M. (1984). Religious involvement and drug use among urban adolescents. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 23(2), 109–128. Retrieved from Scholar
  27. Hofferth, S. L., & Pinzon, A. M. (2011). Do nonresidential fathers’ financial support and contact improve children’s health? Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 32(2), 280–295. doi: 10.1007/s10834-010-9237-9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Irwin, C. E., Igra, V., Eyre, S., & Millstein, S. (1997). Risk-taking behavior in adolescents: The paradigm. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 817(1), 1–35. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.1997.tb48193.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kandel, D. B., Davies, M., Karus, D., & Yamaguchi, K. (1986). The consequences in young adulthood of adolescent drug involvement. An overview. Archives of General Psychiatry, 43(8), 746–754. doi: 10.1001/archpsyc.1986.01800080032005.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kandel, D. B., & Logan, J. A. (1984). Patterns of drug use from adolescence to young adulthood: I. Periods of risk for initiation, continued use, and discontinuation. American Journal of Public Health, 74(7), 660–666. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.74.7.660.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Lehrer, E. L. (2004). Religion as a determinant of economic and demographic behavior in the United States. Population and Development Review, 30(4), 707–726. doi: 10.1111/j.1728-4457.2004.00038.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Lundborg, P. (2006). Having the wrong friends? Peer effects in adolescent substance use. Journal of Health Economics, 25(2), 214–233. doi: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2005.02.001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Manski, C. (2000). Economic analysis of social interactions. The Journal of Economic Perspectives, 14(3), 115–136. doi: 10.1257/jep.14.3.115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Mellor, J. M., & Freeborn, B. A. (2011). Religious participation and risky health behaviors among adolescents. Health Economics, 20(10), 1226–1240. doi: 10.1002/hec.1666.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Miller, D. P. (2011). Maternal work and child overweight and obesity: The importance of timing. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 32(2), 204–218. doi: 10.1007/s10834-010-9244-x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Miller, A. S., & Hoffmann, J. P. (1995). Risk and religion: An explanation of gender differences in religiosity. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 34(1), 63–75. doi: 10.2307/1386523.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Miller, T. R., Levy, D. T., Spicer, R. S., & Taylor, D. M. (2006). Societal costs of underage drinking. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 67, 519–528. Retrieved from
  38. Nonnemaker, J. M., McNeely, C. A., & Blum, R. W. (2003). Public and private domains of religiosity and adolescent health risk behaviors: Evidence from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Social Science and Medicine, 57(11), 2049–2054. doi: 10.1016/S0277-9536(03)00096-0.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Norrell, J. E. (1989). Clergy family satisfaction. Family Science Review, 2(4), 337–346. Retrieved from Scholar
  40. O’Donoghue, T., & Rabin, M. (2001). Risky behavior among youths: Some issues from behavioral economics. In J. Gruber (Ed.), Risky behavior among youths: An economic analysis. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Retrieved from
  41. Pacula, R. L., Grossman, M., Chaloupka, F. J., O’Malley, P. M., Johnston, L. D., & Farrelly, M. C. (2001). Marijuana and youth. In J. Gruber (Ed.). Risky behavior among youths: An economic analysis. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Retrieved from
  42. Reyna, V. F., & Farley, F. (2006). Risk and rationality in adolescent decision making. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 7(1), 1–44. doi: 10.1111/j.1529-1006.2006.00026.x.Google Scholar
  43. Richter, M., Vereecken, C., Boyce, W., Maes, L., Gabhainn, S., & Currie, C. (2009). Parental occupation, family affluence and adolescent health behaviour in 28 countries. International Journal of Public Health, 54(4), 203–212. doi: 10.1007/s00038-009-8018-4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Rostosky, S. S., Wilcox, B. L., Wright, M. L. C., & Randall, B. A. (2004). The impact of religiosity on adolescent sexual behavior. Journal of Adolescent Research, 19, 677–697. doi: 10.1177/0743558403260019.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Sheu, M.-L., Hu, T.-W., Keeler, T. E., Ong, M., & Sung, H.-Y. (2004). The effect of a major cigarette price change on smoking behavior in California: A zero-inflated negative binomial model. Health Economics, 13(8), 781–791. doi: 10.1002/hec.849.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Skog, O.-J. (1985). The collectivity of drinking cultures: A theory of the distribution of alcohol consumption. British Journal of Addiction, 80(1), 83–99. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.1985.tb05294.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Vereecken, C. A., Maes, L., & De Bacquer, D. (2004). The influence of parental occupation and the pupils’ educational level on lifestyle behaviors among adolescents in Belgium. Journal of Adolescent Health, 34(4), 330–338. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2003.07.011.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Viscusi, W. K. (1990). Do smokers underestimate risks? Journal of Political Economy, 98, 1253–1269. Retrieved from
  49. Wilks, J. (1986). The relative importance of parents and friends in adolescent decision making. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 15(4), 323–334. doi: 10.1007/BF02145729.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Wooldridge, J. M. (2002). Econometric analysis of cross section and panel data. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  51. You, W., & Davis, G. C. (2011). Childhood overweight: Does quality of parental childcare time matter? Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 32(2), 219–232. doi: 10.1007/s10834-011-9245-4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Economics and FinanceGeorgia Gwinnett CollegeLawrencevilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsOklahoma State UniversityStillwaterUSA

Personalised recommendations