Effects of Family Structure on Children’s Health and Medical Care: Focus on Single-Father Families

Kathleen M. Ziol-Guest, Harvard University

This study examines the relationship between family structure, with a focus on single-father families, and children’s medical care and health pooling the 1999 and 2002 panels of the National Survey of America’s Families. The sample (n=62,193) is a nationally representative group of children age 0-17 who reside with a single mother, a single father, or two-parents. Negative binomial regressions are used to model various doctor visits and logistic regressions are used to model postponement of medical care. Preliminary findings suggest that single fathers have different health services use patterns compared to both single mothers and two-parent families. Single fathers are less likely to take children for doctor visits and for children to have any hospital stays, whereas single mothers are most likely to postpone needed medical care and dental visits for children. Future analysis will examine differences across SES, insurance coverage, and sex of children.

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Presented in Session 27: Fathers in Families and Child Well-Being