Family Structure Transitions, Social Support, and Maternal Health

Robin S. Hognas, University of Louisville
Heidi M. Williams, University of Louisville

A long tradition of research suggests that social relationships and support are significantly associated with long-term individual outcomes, including mental and physical health, women’s longevity, and mortality. Some research also suggests that divorce and adult health are associated negatively. Yet, the health of parents amid changes in the composition of families and growing complexity, particularly among unmarried parents, is not well understood. This paper uses data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study to examine the link between the types and number of family structure transitions and maternal health. Preliminary results from Cox Proportional Hazard models suggest that the number of family structure transitions, transitions out of and into residential partnerships, and continuously single mothers are at an increased risk of reporting poor health.

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Presented in Session 171: Families, Health, and Well-Being