Little is known about the patterns of alcohol use among adolescents and the transmission of alcohol use behaviors from parents to children, including the passage into responsible and problem drinking, in the developing world. The following paper uses primary data from the Child Health and Migrant Parents in South-East Asia (CHAMPSEA) Project for older children aged 9, 10 and 11 to examine the prevalence (16.2 percent) and correlates of alcohol use initiation including parental migration status, caregiving arrangements and exposure to environmental alcohol use (family and friends) in Vietnam. Contrary to expectations, there is no observed migrant ‘deficit.’ There is some indication that early adolescents in the care of their grandparents are less likely to have a history of experimentation with alcohol use, although it is fully attenuated after controlling for other factors. Peer use is the most powerful explanatory measure of early adolescent drinking, with early adolescents more than five times as likely to have ever drunk alcohol if their friends drink also, and as expected, there is a strong child gender difference with girls much less likely to have a history of alcohol use.
“A man without alcohol is like a flag without wind”
- Popular Vietnamese saying