Latest articles in this journal
Previous research has shown that childbearing is associated with short-term improvements in women's subjective well-being but that these effects depend on the timing and quantum of the birth as well as on the parents' education and socioeconomic status. These studies did not address whether and, if so, how this effect varies according to the mode of conception. This represents an important knowledge gap, given that conceptions through medically assisted reproduction (MAR) have been increasing rapidly in recent decades, exceeding 5% of live births in some European countries. Drawing on nine waves (2009/2010–2017/2018) of the UK Household Longitudinal Study, we use distributed fixed-effects linear regression models to examine changes in women's mental health before, during, and after natural and MAR conceptions. The results show that the mental health of women who conceived naturally improved around the time of conception and then gradually returned to baseline levels; comparatively, the mental health of women who conceived through MAR declined in the year before pregnancy and then gradually recovered. The findings also indicate that women's happiness decreased both two years and one year before an MAR conception and then increased above the baseline in the year of pregnancy. We further show that the deterioration in mental health and subjective well-being before an MAR conception affects both partners, which could be part of a longer process in which the partners potentially suffer from stress related not solely to the MAR treatments themselves but also to the experience of subfertility.
The comparative study of perceived physical and mental health in general—and the comparative study of health between the native-born and immigrants, in particular—requires that the groups understand survey questions inquiring about their health in the same way and display similar response patterns. After all, observed differences in perceived health may not reflect true differences but rather cultural bias in the health measures. Research on cross-country measurement equivalence between immigrants and natives on self-reported health measures has received very limited attention to date, resulting in a growing demand for the validation of existing perceived health measures using samples of natives and immigrants and establishing measurement equivalence of health-related assessment tools. This study, therefore, aims to examine measurement equivalence of self-reported physical and mental health indicators between immigrants and natives in the United States. Using pooled data from the 2015–2017 IPUMS Health Surveys, we examine the cross-group measurement equivalence properties of five concepts that are measured by multiple indicators: (1) perceived limitations in activities of daily life; (2) self-reported disability; (3) perceived functional limitations; (4) perceived financial stress; and (5) nonspecific psychological distress. Furthermore, we examine the comparability of these data among respondents of different ethnoracial origins and from different regions of birth, who report few versus many years since migration, their age, gender, and the language used to respond to the interview (e.g., English vs. Spanish). We test for measurement equivalence using multigroup confirmatory factor analysis. The results reveal that health scales are comparable across the examined groups. This finding allows drawing meaningful conclusions about similarities and differences among natives and immigrants on measures of perceived health in these data.
Programs that provide affordable and stable housing may contribute to better child health and thus to fewer missed days of school. Drawing on a unique linkage of survey and administrative data, we use a quasi-experimental approach to examine the impact of rental assistance programs on missed days of school due to illness. We compare missed school days due to illness among children receiving rental assistance with those who will enter assistance within two years of their interview, the average length of waitlists for federal rental assistance. Overall, we find that children who receive rental assistance miss fewer days of school due to illness relative to those in the pseudo-waitlist group. We demonstrate that rental assistance leads to a reduction in the number of health problems among children and thus to fewer days of school missed due to illness. We find that the effect of rental assistance on missed school days is stronger for adolescents than for younger children. Additionally, race-stratified analyses reveal that rental assistance leads to fewer missed days due to illness among non-Hispanic White and Hispanic/Latino children; this effect, however, is not evident for non-Hispanic Black children, the largest racial/ethnic group receiving assistance. These findings suggest that underinvestment in affordable housing may impede socioeconomic mobility among disadvantaged non-Hispanic White and Hispanic/Latino children. In contrast, increases in rental assistance may widen racial/ethnic disparities in health among disadvantaged children, and future research should examine why this benefit is not evident for Black children.
Women's ability to control their fertility through contraception and abortion has been shown to contribute to improvements in education and employment. At the same time, their employment and wages decline substantially when they transition to motherhood. About one-third of births are unintended, and it is unknown whether the impact of motherhood on employment, hours, and wages is smaller for women who planned their transition into motherhood compared with those who did not. To explore this, we examine fixed-effects models that estimate labor market outcomes using panel data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 1979–2014. We estimate models for Black and White women and find that the relationship between motherhood and employment is significantly more negative among White women who plan their transition into motherhood than among those who have an unplanned first birth. Among those who remain employed, we find that those with a planned first birth work fewer hours and have lower wages relative to those with unplanned births. We do not find significant evidence that the association between motherhood and labor market outcomes differs by fertility planning among Black women. Prior research shows how women's choices are structurally constrained by sociocultural norms and expectations and by a labor market that may not readily accommodate motherhood. In this context, our findings may reflect differences in women's motherhood and employment preferences and their ability to act on those preferences. Our analysis also makes a novel contribution to the large body of research that associates unplanned births with negative outcomes.
Demography, Volume 58, pp 871-900; doi:10.1215/00703370-9164737
The relationship between employment instability and fertility is a major topic in demographic research, with a proliferation of published papers on this matter, especially since the Great Recession. Employment instability, which most often manifests in unemployment or time-limited employment, is usually deemed to have a negative effect on fertility, although different fertility reactions are hypothesized by sociological theories, and micro-level evidence is fragmented and contradictory. We used meta-analytic techniques to synthesize European research findings, offer general conclusions about the effects of employment instability on fertility (in terms of direction and size), and rank different sources of employment instability. Our results suggest that employment instability has a nonnegligible negative effect on fertility. Men's unemployment is more detrimental for fertility than men's time-limited employment; conversely, a woman having a fixed-term contract is least likely to have a child. Next, the negative effect of employment instability on fertility has become stronger over time, and is more severe in Southern European countries, where social protection for families and the unemployed is least generous. Finally, meta-regression estimates demonstrate that failing to account for income and partner characteristics leads to an overestimation of the negative effect of employment instability on fertility. We advance the role of these two factors as potential mechanisms by which employment instability affects fertility. Overall, this meta-analysis provides the empirical foundation for new studies on the topic.
Demography, Volume 58, pp 1065-1091; doi:10.1215/00703370-9160022
Scholars have been increasingly concerned about the rise in “intensive mothering” and its implications for the well-being of children and women and for inequality more broadly. These concerns, however, reflect a key assumption: that socioeconomic disparities in mothers' parenting time observed in earlier eras have continued to grow. Using the American Time Use Survey (ATUS) from 2003–2005 and 2015–2017 (n = 13,755), we test this assumption by examining whether maternal education gaps in active time spent with children have persisted across the 2000s. We pay particular attention to the continued socioeconomic bifurcation in women's access to full-time stable work, assessing whether changes in the education-related time gap are due to changes in who works and how much. We find that the gap in active childcare time between mothers with a college degree and those without has closed dramatically. Although some of this narrowing was driven by declines in time among college-educated mothers, most was driven by increases among mothers with less education. These trends, however, are observed only among mothers who were not employed full-time. Blinder-Oaxaca decomposition analyses further reveal that although most of the increase in active care time among nonworking mothers with less education was attributable to behavioral change, 58% of the decline among nonworking, college-educated mothers was a result of sociodemographic compositional changes. These findings illuminate population-level trends in mothers' active parenting time, provide insights into the driving factors, and help update theories, qualitative findings, and policy considerations related to mothers' and children's well-being.
Demography, Volume 58, pp 1011-1037; doi:10.1215/00703370-9164021
The extent to which siblings resemble each other measures the omnibus impact of family background on life chances. We study sibling similarity in cognitive skills, school grades, and educational attainment in Finland, Germany, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States. We also compare sibling similarity by parental education and occupation within these societies. The comparison of sibling correlations across and within societies allows us to characterize the omnibus impact of family background on education across social landscapes. Across countries, we find larger population-level differences in sibling similarity in educational attainment than in cognitive skills and school grades. In general, sibling similarity in education varies less across countries than sibling similarity in earnings. Compared with Scandinavian countries, the United States shows more sibling similarity in cognitive skills and educational attainment but less sibling similarity in school grades. We find that socioeconomic differences in sibling similarity vary across parental resources, countries, and measures of educational success. Sweden and the United States show greater sibling similarity in educational attainment in families with a highly educated father, and Finland and Norway show greater sibling similarity in educational attainment in families with a low-educated father. We discuss the implications of our results for theories about the impact of institutions and income inequality on educational inequality and the mechanisms that underlie such inequality.
Demography, Volume 58, pp 1039-1064; doi:10.1215/00703370-9162131
It is well established that students from different socioeconomic backgrounds attend different colleges, net of their academic preparation. An unintended consequence of these disparities is that in the aggregate, they enhance socioeconomic segregation across institutions of higher education, cultivating separate and distinct social environments that can influence students' outcomes. Using information on the academic careers of a nationally representative sample of U.S. high school students who entered college in the mid-2000s, matched with external information on the social context of each college, this study evaluates the extent of socioeconomic segregation by social context in higher education and its implications for socioeconomic inequality in bachelor's degree attainment. Results confirm that social context is highly consequential for inequality in student outcomes. First, disparities in social context are extensive, even after differences in demographics, skills, attitudes, and college characteristics are accounted for. Second, the social context of campus, as shaped by segregation, is a robust predictor of students' likelihood of obtaining a bachelor's degree. Finally, the degree attainment rates of all students are positively associated with higher concentrations of economic advantages on campus. Combined, these results imply that socioeconomic segregation across colleges exacerbates disparities in degree attainment by placing disadvantaged students in social environments that are least conducive to their academic success.
Demography, Volume 58, pp 1119-1141; doi:10.1215/00703370-9157471
Cash assistance allocations from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and its predecessor program fell from $34.3 billion to $7.4 billion in real value from 1993 to 2016, a 78% decrease. Some investigations of TANF point to favorable labor market changes as the source of the decline, whereas others point to declining benefit levels and barriers to benefit receipt. This study introduces a framework to decompose the decline of TANF cash assistance into changes in need for cash assistance, the participation rate among those meeting income-based eligibility standards, and benefit levels among those receiving cash support. Using the U.S. Current Population Survey, I find that declining participation explains 52% of the decline in TANF cash assistance from 1993 onward, whereas declining need explains 21%, and declining benefit levels explain 27%. The study then applies reweighting techniques to measure the extent to which compositional changes in the population, such as rising employment rates among single mothers, can explain changes in need, participation, and benefit levels. The results suggest that compositional changes explain only 22% of the decline of TANF cash assistance, confirming that the majority of the decline is due to reduced participation and benefit levels rather than reduced demand for cash support. Adding the noncompositional share of the decline in TANF back to observed levels of cash spending in 2016 would result in nearly $20 billion in additional transfers, more than the minimum amount necessary to lift all single-mother households out of poverty.
Demography, Volume 58, pp 1093-1117; doi:10.1215/00703370-9160055
The growing economic similarity of spouses has contributed to rising income inequality across households. Explanations have typically centered on assortative mating, but recent work has argued that changes in women's employment and spouses' division of paid work have played a more important role. We expand this work to consider the critical turning point of parenthood in shaping couples' division of employment and earnings. Drawing on three U.S. nationally representative surveys, we examine the role of parenthood in spouses' earnings correlations between 1968 and 2015. We examine the extent to which changes in spouses' earnings correlations are due to (1) changes upon entry into marriage (assortative mating), (2) changes between marriage and parenthood, (3) changes following parenthood, and (4) changes in women's employment. Our findings show that increases in the correlation between spouses' earnings prior to 1990 came largely from changes between marriage and first birth, but increases after 1990 came almost entirely from changes following parenthood. In both instances, changes in women's employment are key to increasing earnings correlations. Changes in assortative mating played little role in either period. An assessment of the aggregate-level implications points to the growing significance of earnings similarity after parenthood for rising income inequality across families.