Journal of Family and Economic Issues

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

Sinners or Saints? Preachers’ Kids and Risky Health Behaviors

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 


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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

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