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The Effects of Child Health on Marital Status

  • Hope Corman
  • Robert Kaestner

The purpose of this paper is to provide evidence on the effect of child health on marital stability and family structure within an economic framework. We use the 1988 National Health Interview Survey's Child Health Supplement, with a sample of about 9,000 families to test whether having an unhealthy child decreases the mother's chance of being married, and whether it increases her chance of living in an extended family. Using two different measures of child health, we find that having an unhealthy child does decrease the mother's likelihood of being married. Our results are strongest for white women who were married at the time of the child's birth and for black women who were unmarried at that time. These results imply that children in poor health will, more likely, face obstacles beyond their illness, since they will also be more likely to suffer consequences of poverty and poor schooling outcomes which results when raised in a female headed household. The only mitigating factor is that, for white children, they will be more likely than healthy children to living in an extended family.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w3850.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 3850.

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Date of creation: Sep 1991
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Demography, Volume 29, No. 3,Vol. 29, Aug., 1992 pp.389-408
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:3850
Note: HE
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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Web page: http://www.nber.org
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  1. Michael Grossman & Theodore J. Joyce, 1991. "Unobservables, Pregnancy Resolutions, and Birthweight Production Functions in New York City," NBER Working Papers 2746, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Becker, Gary S, 1974. "A Theory of Marriage: Part II," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(2), pages S11-S26, Part II, .
  3. Robert Hutchens & George Jakubson & Saul Schwartz, 1989. "AFDC and the Formation of Subfamilies," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 24(4), pages 599-628.
  4. Sheila Krein & Andrea Beller, 1988. "Educational attainment of children from single-parent families: Differences by exposure, gender, and race," Demography, Springer, vol. 25(2), pages 221-234, May.
  5. McFadden, Daniel L., 1984. "Econometric analysis of qualitative response models," Handbook of Econometrics, in: Z. Griliches† & M. D. Intriligator (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 24, pages 1395-1457 Elsevier.
  6. Hope Corman & Theodore J. Joyce & Michael Grossman, 1985. "Birth Outcome Production Functions in the U.S," NBER Working Papers 1729, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Keeley, Michael C, 1977. "The Economics of Family Formation," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 15(2), pages 238-50, April.
  8. Sara McLanahan, 1988. "Family structure and dependency: Early transitions to female household headship," Demography, Springer, vol. 25(1), pages 1-16, February.
  9. Chiswick, Carmel U & Lehrer, Evelyn L, 1990. "On Marriage-Specific Human Capital: Its Role as a Determinant of Remarriage," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 3(3), pages 193-213, October.
  10. Saul Hoffman & Greg Duncan, 1988. "Multinomial and conditional logit discrete-choice models in demography," Demography, Springer, vol. 25(3), pages 415-427, August.
  11. Chaikind, Stephen & Corman, Hope, 1991. "The impact of low birthweight on special education costs," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 291-311, October.
  12. Reuben Gronau, 1976. "Leisure, Home Production and Work--The Theory of The Allocation of Time Revisited," NBER Working Papers 0137, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Hope Corman & Theodore J. Joyce & Michael Grossman, 1987. "Birth Outcome Production Function in the United States," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 22(3), pages 339-360.
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