American Sociological Association

A Multilevel Test of Constrained Choices Theory: The Case of Tobacco Clean Air Restrictions

According to Bird and Rieker’s sociology of constrained choices, decisions and priorities concerning health are shaped by the contexts—including policy, community, and work/family—in which they are formulated. While each level received attention in the original and subsequent research, we contend their constrained choices theory provides a powerful multilevel framework for modeling health outcomes. We apply this framework to tobacco clean air restrictions, combining a comprehensive database of tobacco policies with the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 from ages 19 to 31. Using multilevel panel models, we find that clean air policies lower the odds of past 30 day smoking and dependence while controlling for other policy-, city-, and individual-level constraints. We also find unique between- and within-person effects, as well as gender effects, for the constraint levied by smoking bans. We argue for the theory’s broad applicability beyond commonly cited findings regarding gender and biological influences.


Vuolo, M., Kadowaki, J., Kelly, B. C.





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