Family Structure, Housing, and Child Health

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

Using data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, this paper aims to identify whether and how housing and family circumstances are associated with, and inter-related in the production of, child health at age 3. Findings demonstrate links between family structure and housing characteristics, but the nature of the relationships with one another and with child health vary according to the health outcome considered. For childhood asthma, having unmarried parents is persistently associated with poor health. Nonetheless, housing variables appear to provide a partial explanatory pathway: children who are growing up in public housing tenants appear particularly at heightened risk. In contrast, when a general health assessment measure is examined, initial family differentials are narrow and disappear when housing variables are introduced. Previous moves out of owner-occupation and into rented accommodation is, for both outcomes, associated with poorer child health.

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Presented in Session 132: Families Health and Well-Being