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Marital status and infant health outcomes

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  • Bennett, Trude
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    Abstract

    Out-of-wedlock status has long been recognized as a demographic risk factor associated with infant mortality and low birthweight. However, the relationship between marital status and birth outcomes varies by maternal race and age. The negative impact of unmarried status is greatest for white women aged 20 and over. High infant mortality rates for married teen mothers challenge the assumption that marriage necessarily provides a protective environment for childbearing. Maternal and child health research and policy have been hindered by a deviance model of out-of-wedlock fertility, which is both biased and outdated. Inconsistencies in the effect of marital status indicate variations in both economic and social resources. Purely behavioral explanations for escalated risks to unmarried mothers are not justified by research findings. Alternative interpretations suggest the need for greater societal involvement in maternal health care created in part by changes in family structure.

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    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B6VBF-46698G3-15C/2/ad68e7fc4a7316266cb419574403abc4
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

    Volume (Year): 35 (1992)
    Issue (Month): 9 (November)
    Pages: 1179-1187

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:35:y:1992:i:9:p:1179-1187

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    Related research

    Keywords: out-of-wedlock birth marital status infant mortality low birthweight maternal and child health;

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    Cited by:
    1. Kasey Buckles & Joseph Price, 2013. "Selection and the Marriage Premium for Infant Health," Demography, Springer, vol. 50(4), pages 1315-1339, August.
    2. Wanchuan Lin, 2009. "Why has the health inequality among infants in the US declined? Accounting for the shrinking gap," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(7), pages 823-841.
    3. Teresa Castro, 2010. "Single motherhood and low birthweight in Spain," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 22(27), pages 863-890, May.

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