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Single moms entering midlife may lead to public health crisis
Date:6/1/2011

d Hispanic women who had a first child outside of marriage, those who married the biological father of their child and remained married to him did have better health at age 40 than did those who didn't have partners. But that advantage did not apply to black women, who have a larger percentage of out-of-wedlock births compared to women of other racial and ethnic groups.

"Marriage to the father of their child tends to help by providing women with economic and social support, but black women are disadvantaged in marriage in both of those respects," Williams said. "Black single mothers are more likely to marry men who have poor economic prospects, in part because decades of poverty have contributed to a shortage of marriageable men."

These results cast doubt on the benefits of government efforts to promote marriage for the health of women most affected by such undertakings, Williams said. Beginning with the 1996 U.S. welfare reform act, federal and state governments have developed programs to promote marriage, particularly among low-income single mothers. These efforts have included public advertising campaigns emphasizing the importance of marriage and programs providing relationship skills training.

"Studies have shown the average benefits of marriage to women in the general population," Williams said. "But this study shows that these benefits don't apply equally to single mothers, at least when it comes to health. They have too much working against them to benefit from marriage in most cases."


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Contact: Daniel Fowler
pubinfo@asanet.org
202-527-7885
American Sociological Association
Source:Eurekalert

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