[IPAC-List] Subgroup norms of inebriation?

Mark Hammer Mark.Hammer at psc-cfp.gc.ca
Mon Oct 18 14:13:16 EDT 2010

Use of what might be termed residual scores is often a good idea, in
principle, but a problem in reality because of the quality or
availability of empirical data needed to construct the regression slope
that would be used to assess more/less-than-you'd-expect.
During my doctoral years, we compared retirees against college
students, and "controlled for" education by assuring that the average
education was no different for the younger and older subjects. Of
course, a woman getting a master's degree in 1943 was more of a social
outlier for her birth cohort than a woman getting the same degree in
1986, and simply counting up number of years of post-secondary education
in no way assured that the two broad age groups were equally
representative of their respective cohorts, just because they had the
same #yrs on average.

My "brilliant" plan was to use census data on educational attainment to
construct a regression of expected education by birth-year, and be able
to recast all our research participants in terms of residualized
education (i.e., how many S.D.s above or below the regression line for
their birth cohort). Sadly, the census data was woefully inadequate in
terms of the needed figures (stupid World Wars, with all their people
overseas and immigrants!!), and the brilliant scheme died an ignominious

Calculating alcohol consumption as lighter or heavier for one's weight,
age, ethnicity, etc., is similarly risky. And as Dennis so wisely
points out, when consumption is based on under-specified retrospective
judgments. That straight regression line you hope for turns into a
wriggling snake that won't sit still.

I would think that the key indicators are more of the behavioural "did
you ever?" type than some attempt to calculate residualized alcohol
consumption estimates and infer behaviour from that. t,s not so much
their alcohol consumption one is interested in anyway, so much as what
it says about their propensity for risky behaviour, poor coping skills,
or conscientiousness. I don't suppose people would respond truthfully
to questions like "Have you ever come to work intoxicated?", "Have you
ever consumed alcohol in some form to the point of becoming intoxicated
while alone?", or "Have you ever consumed alcohol in some form to the
point of excess to deal with a difficult problem?", but then would they
report specific quantities of alcohol consumption any MORE truthfully or

Mark Hammer

>>> <Ines.Fraenkel at sfgov.org> 2010/10/18 1:22 PM >>>

Dear Shelley,
While consideration of gender and weight may be challenged (as may
'new' that prevents someone from being hired), I would assert that
considerations are lawful, if there is enough empirical data that
the findings. As to ethnicity, that is a different question, as I
that the differences associated with ethnicity are also influenced by
socio-economic status and conditions.

Ines Vargas Fraenkel
Chief Supervising Attorney - Office of Citizen Complaints
25 Van Ness Ave., Suite 700
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 241-7738 direct
(415) 518-6052 cell
(415) 241-7733 fax
ines.fraenkel at sfgov.org


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