Race Disparities in Early Marriage and Health in the Transition to Adulthood

Kathleen Mullan Harris, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Felicia DeLeone, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Hedwig Lee, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Although prior research has linked marriage with positive physical and mental health outcomes, little work has specifically focused on the relationship between early marriage and health. This is particularly true for African Americans, despite well-documented racial differences in health profiles and marriage behavior. This paper addresses racial differences in selection into marriage and subsequent changes in health during the transition to adulthood using the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health). This research examines three categories of negative health outcomes: physical health, mental health and risk behaviors. Discrete-time event history logistic regression models are used to predict transitions to early marriage as a function of early health. Change models are used to examine the subsequent health effects of marriage while taking potential selection into marriage and baseline health into account. Preliminary results indicate that the roles of socioeconomic status and health in predicting marriage differ greatly by race and sex.

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Presented in Session 96: Racial and Ethnic Differentials in Health and Mortality