Family Structure, Maternal Nativity Status and Childhood Overweight and Obesity: Evidence from the United Kingdom

Wendy Sigle-Rushton, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
Alice Goisis, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)

Using data from the British Millennium Cohort Study (MCS), we examine the risk of overweight and obesity in early childhood, exploring whether and how it varies by family structure and maternal nativity status. Because the resources available to different family types, and the form and function of the family, are likely to vary across different nativity groups, a closer examination of heterogeneous effects may shed light on the underlying processes that drive gaps in well-being by family struture and parental marital status. Although within all maternal nativity groups children of married mothers have better health outcomes, our findings suggest that predominant theoretical explanations which link marriage to greater access to resources and better health behaviors may be less relevant for the children of foreign-born and second generation mothers. Marriage does not appear to provide those mothers with the same relative advantages that are observed in the wider population.

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Presented in Session 27: International and Domestic Migration, Children and Families