Family Structure and Child Health in the U.K.: Pathways to Health

Lidia Panico, Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED)
Mel Bartley, International Centre for Life Course Studies in Society and Health
Anne McMunn, University College London
Yvonne Kelly, University of Essex
Amanda Sacker, University of Essex

A large body of literature has shown marked differences in the average level of resources and of child well-being across different family structures. Although studies examining cognitive, educational and behavioural outcomes are more numerous, there is less evidence of differentials in physical health according to family structure. Furthermore, most research on family structure and child outcomes has concentrated on describing differentials, or testing whether the association between family structure and child well being is "real”. Less emphasis has been placed on understanding the underlying proximate processes that explain the link between family structure to child health. Using the British Millennium Cohort Study, we focus on explicitly mapping the possible proximate processes that link a longitudinal measure of family structure to three early childhood physical health outcomes. These analyses employ graphical chain models, a statistical technique that lends itself well to longitudinal data, to test these relationships.

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Presented in Session 72: New Approaches to Understanding Child Health: A Closer Look at the Family