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On the move: Exploring the impact of residential mobility on cannabis use

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-248
Number of pages10
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Early online date6 May 2016
DateAccepted/In press - 28 Apr 2016
DateE-pub ahead of print - 6 May 2016
DatePublished (current) - Nov 2016


A large literature exists suggesting that residential mobility leads to increased participation in risky health behaviours such as cannabis use amongst youth. However, much of this work fails to account for the impact that underlying differences between mobile and non-mobile youth have on this relationship. In this study we utilise multilevel models with longitudinal data to simultaneously estimate between-child and within-child effects in the relationship between residential mobility and cannabis use, allowing us to determine the extent to which cannabis use in adolescence is driven by residential mobility and unobserved confounding. Data come from a UK cohort, The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. Consistent with previous research we find a positive association between cumulative residential mobility and cannabis use when using multilevel extensions of conventional logistic regression models (log odds: 0.94, standard error: 0.42), indicating that children who move houses are more likely to use cannabis than those who remain residentially stable. However, decomposing this relationship into within- and between-child components reveals that the conventional model is underspecified and misleading; we find that differences in cannabis use between mobile and non-mobile children are due to underlying differences between these groups (between-child log odds: 3.56, standard error: 1.22), not by a change in status of residential mobility (within-child log odds: 1.33, standard error: 1.02). Our findings suggest that residential mobility in the teenage years does not place children at an increased risk of cannabis use throughout these years.

    Research areas

  • ALSPAC, Cannabis, Life events, Multilevel model, Residential mobility, United Kingdom, Within- and between-individual effects

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    Licence: CC BY


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