Cumulative Risks and Child Health and Development by Family Structure, Education, and Race/Ethnicity

Cynthia A. Osborne, Princeton University
Sara McLanahan, Princeton University

The number of developmental risk factors a child is exposed to is often found to be more harmful to healthy development than any one particular risk factor alone. This analysis uses data from a new birth cohort study to examine the level of risk factors that children are exposed to at birth, and how their risk increases or decreases between birth and age 3. We also determine whether the level and change in risk differs by the family structure, race/ethnicity, and education level of the mother. In addition, we examine the association between these risk factors and child health and development at age 3, and how this association is moderated by family structure, race/ethnicity, and education level. Preliminary findings suggest that children born to unmarried and less educated mothers not only experience more disadvantages at birth, but that this disparity increases over time.

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Presented in Session 68: Family Structure and Child Development