Family Structure and Child Health: Where Do Children in Same-Sex Parent Families Fit?

Justin T. Denney, Rice University
Laura L. Freeman, Rice University
Rachel T. Kimbro, Rice University

Increasing family complexity over the last half-century has spurred the need for research on the implications for children of diverse family structures. In particular, research focused on the health and development of children in same-sex parent families is scarce. What evidence is available suffers from many shortcomings, including a lack of representative data. We use 14 years of the National Health Interview Survey (1998-2011) to identify children age 0 to 18 in married couple different-sex, same-sex couple, cohabiting different-sex couple, and single parent families. We examine the relationship between family type and the parent’s perception of the child’s overall health status while accounting for important covariates such as socioeconomic status, health insurance, and whether the child was adopted. The results suggest that children in same-sex families are similar to those in married families and children in different-sex cohabiting and single parent families have higher odds of poorer health.

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Presented in Session 132: Families Health and Well-Being