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The Potential Contribution of Marital-Cohabitation Status to Racial, Ethnic, and Nativity Differentials in Birth Outcomes in Texas

Citation

Sullivan, Kate; Raley, R. Kelly; Hummer, Robert A.; & Schiefelbein, Emily (2012). The Potential Contribution of Marital-Cohabitation Status to Racial, Ethnic, and Nativity Differentials in Birth Outcomes in Texas. Maternal and Child Health Journal, 16(4), 775-784.

Abstract

Disparities in infant mortality by race/ethnicity and nativity are widely known. Patterns of marriage and union formation also vary by race, ethnicity and nativity and may contribute to disparities in birth outcomes. Using population level data, we build on previous research of race/ethnic disparities in birth outcomes by investigating the role of union status. Data come from the 2006 Birth Record from Texas Vital Statistics. The final sample size included 369,839 births to Texas women aged 18 and older. Birth outcomes were constructed from indicators of low birth weight and preterm birth. Logistic regression estimates odds of low birth weight and preterm birth by race/ethnicity and nativity and union status. Race/ethnicity/nativity and union status are significant and independent predictors of birth outcomes. US born Black and Mexican Origin mothers had higher odds of preterm birth and low birth weight babies compared to US born White mothers. Unmarried mothers had higher odds of adverse birth outcomes compared to married women. There was only modest support that the association between race/ethnicity/nativity status and birth outcomes could be explained by divergent patterns in union status. Though disparities in birth outcomes are persistent across race, ethnicity and nativity, the results suggest that union status at birth is a very weak factor in accounting for these disparities. Differing patterns in union status did not account for the Black-White and Mexican Origin-White gaps in infant health outcomes. Additional research aimed at uncovering the processes that put these mothers and infants at higher risk is needed.

URL

http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10995-011-0801-1

Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published

2012

Journal Title

Maternal and Child Health Journal

Author(s)

Sullivan, Kate
Raley, R. Kelly
Hummer, Robert A.
Schiefelbein, Emily