Does socioeconomic inequality explain ethnic differences in nicotine dependence? Evidence from a New Zealand birth cohort.

Dannette Marie, David Fergusson, Joseph Boden

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Objective: The present study examined the role of socioeconomic status and cultural identity in the association between ethnicity and nicotine dependence, in a birth cohort of >1000 methods young people studied to age 30.

Methods: Data were gathered on ethnicity, cultural identification, nicotine dependence, and socioeconomic factors, as part of a longitudinal study of a New Zealand birth cohort (the Christchurch Health and Development Study).

Results: Those reporting Maori identity had rates of nicotine dependence that were significantly higher (p < 0.05) than rates for non-Maori. Control for socioeconomic factors reduced the associations between ethnic identity and nicotine dependence to statistical non-significance. In addition, there was no evidence of a statistically significant association between Maori cultural identity and nicotine dependence, nor was there evidence of gender differences in the association between ethnic identity and nicotine dependence, after controlling for socioeconomic factors.

Conclusions: The higher rates of nicotine dependence observed among Maori appear to be attributable to differences in socioeconomic status. Efforts to improve the socioeconomic standing of Maori should therefore help to reduce rates of nicotine dependence in this population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)378-383
Number of pages6
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2010


  • ethnic identity
  • longitudinal study
  • New Zealand Maori
  • nicotine dependence
  • socioeconomic status

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