Child health and early childhood family environments in fragile families

Lisbeth Trille G. Loft, University of Copenhagen
Sara McLanahan, Princeton University

To address barriers to children’s development and families’ social mobility, scholarship on social inequality has increasingly paid attention to the importance of child health. In this study we simultaneously consider implications of social disadvantage and children’s health disparities. We use data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study to: 1) examine variation in poverty and family structure during their early childhood years (age one through five), and 2) determine if children born in poor health are more likely to spend their early childhood years in family environments typified by poverty and fragile family structures. Using sequence analysis and multinomial regression, we demonstrate that not only are children in poor health more likely to be born into poor fragile families relative to their healthy peers, they also are more likely to remain in these types of families throughout early childhood.

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Presented in Session 109: Children's health: Determinants and policy approaches