Western University SociologyFaculty of Social Science

Family, Community and Health in the Context of Economic Change

Project completed: Jan 1, 2004 - Sept 30, 2005
  • Overview

  • Background

  • Studies

  • Results

  • Project Team

The Population Studies Centre and the Aging and Health Research Centre at Western are working together on a joint project, The Family, Community, and Health in the Context of Economic Change that aims at a better understanding of the influences of families and communities on population and individual health of Canadians. The project, led by Rod Beaujot, stems from an earlier project on Family Transformation and Social Cohesion and is funded by Health Canada through its Applied Research and Analysis Directorate.

Investigators study the health impact of changes in socio-economic positions of families at various life course stages, and explore the ways through which families and communities influence health outcomes, behaviours, and practices. They make use of data from surveys conducted by Statistics Canada such as the National Population Health Surveys, National Longitudinal Surveys on Children and Youth, Canadian Community Health Survey, and the 2001 General Social Survey on Family History.

Research work started in January 2004 and, since then, a number of studies have been presented in academic conferences and in the project's series of workshops, including Young Canadians' Timing of and Trajectories to Parenthood: Social Status and Gender Differentials by Zenaida R. Ravanera and Fernando Rajulton; Stress and Adult Health: Impact of Time Spent in Paid and Unpaid Work, and Its Division in Families by Roderic Beaujot and Robert Andersen; Family Structure, Financial Strain, and Psychological Distress in the Context of the Life Course by William R. Avison and Lorraine Davies, and Family Structures and Children's Behavioral Problems: A Latent Growth Curve Analysis by Don Kerr and Joseph Michalski.

Other studies that will be presented in the coming months are: Perceived Threat, Coping Resources and Adolescent Mental Health by Teresa Abada, Feng Hou and Bali Ram; Marital and Parental Status, Perceived Stress and Mediating Factors by Ali Muhammad and Alain Gagnon; and Use of Graphical Modelling in the Analysis of the National Population and Health Surveys by Rajulton Fernando and Jianlin Niu. Two MA students are doing their thesis with funding from the project: Melissa Moyser with Why are Canadians Having Children? An Investigation of the Value of Children in Modern Society and its Impact on Fertility; and Yimin Lou with Why “healthy immigrant effect”? -- An empirical study with Canadian Community Health Survey.

Funding

The project is funded by Health Canada through its Applied Research and Analysis Directorate. It aims at a better understanding of the influences of families and communities on population and individual health of Canadians and stems from an earlier project on Family Transformation and Social Cohesion.

Principal Investigator

Rod Beaujot, Ph.D.

Co-investigators

William Avison, Ph.D.
Lorraine Davies, Ph.D.
Aging and Health Research Centre

Teresa Abada, Ph.D.
Rajulton Fernando, Ph.D.
Alain Gagnon, Ph.D.
Don Kerr, Ph.D.
Zenaida R. Ravanera, Ph.D.
Population Studies Centre

Robert Andersen, Ph.D.
McMaster University

 

Project Proposal

Submitted in response to Health Canada's request for proposal on Health Impact of Economic Change

Rod Beaujot
Principal Investigator

William Avison, Lorraine Davies, Rajulton Fernando,
Don Kerr, Robert Andersen, and Zenaida R. Ravanera
Co-investigators

Brief Description

This project aims at a better understanding of the influences of families and communities on population and individual health of Canadians, and takes advantage of an earlier SSHRC-funded project on Family Transformation and Social Cohesion. A joint undertaking of University of Western Ontario's Population Studies Centre and Centre for Health and Well-Being, the project will examine the health impact of changes in socio-economic positions of families at various life course stages, and explore the ways through which families and communities influence health outcomes, behaviours, and practices. Appropriate cross-sectional, longitudinal and multi-level statistical techniques of analysis will be performed on existing data including the 1998 General Social Survey (GSS) on Time Use, the 2001 GSS on the Family, the National Population Health Surveys, the National Longitudinal Survey on Children and Youth, the Canadian Community Health Survey, and the Participation and Activity Limitation Survey.

The proposed research will cover a number of relationships or pathways indicated in the project's framework which assumes that multi-level influences on health occur over the life course. The first set of studies - Family formation, fertility and health - would seek to understand the relations between the conditions of the parental family and the individual socio-economic situations. The second set - Family structure, economic security, and health over the life course - would examine the interplay between changes in the economic situations, the family, and health of children and adults. Both sets would take into account the community contexts. The final group of studies - Community, social cohesion and health - would look more closely at the health impact of communities including their economic condition and social cohesion.

An important element of the project is the examination of the impact of community characteristics on the health of Canadians. The inclusion of communities in the analysis would depend on the merging of data from the surveys with data on communities derived from the censuses.


I. General Objectives:

The project proposes to analyze the relationships between health gradients and the socio-economic positions of families and communities, to examine the impact of changes in families on the health of Canadians at various life course stages, and to explore the ways through which families influence health outcomes, behaviours and practices. This joint project of two research centres at the University of Western Ontario - The Population Studies Centre and The Centre for Health and Well-Being - will build on the research done under the Family Transformation and Social Cohesion Project. Existing data will be utilized including the General Social Surveys merged with data on communities derived from the 1996 census, the National Population Health Surveys, the National Longitudinal Surveys on Children and Youth, the Canadian Community Health Survey, and the Participation and Activity Limitation Survey.

II. Background

That there is association between individual's health status and socio-economic position has been recognized for centuries (Lynch and Kaplan, 2000 and citations therein; Ross and Mirowsky, 1999, Mirowsky and Ross, 1998). It is also apparent and documented by several studies (see for example, Marmot and Wilkinson, 1999; Berkman and Kawachi, 2000) that the environment, including its economic and social conditions, influences both the population and individual health.

This project assumes that families play an important role in mediating the effects on health of socioeconomic status of individuals and communities although, as Emmons (2000) notes, to date relatively little is known about the influences of family on health behaviours and how these influences operate at different life course stages (p.252).

Examining the relations between families and health becomes even more important when seen in the light of recent macro and micro level changes. At the macro-level, major social changes like globalization and expanded role for markets have put a stress on social cohesion or require that societies establish new forms of cohesion. At the micro level, families have changed in ways that have affected both the cohesiveness of families and the way in which families play roles in people's belonging to a shared community. Over the past four decades, Canadian families have been transformed through increasing popularity of cohabitation and high rates of separation and divorce, low fertility reflected in fewer children per family and high rates of childlessness, greater number of lone parent families, dramatic increase in labour force participation particularly of married women, and the later ages at experience of life course events. A significant part of the new internal context is associated with family changes that bring a new kind of insecurity. That is, the insecurities associated with death, orphanhood and widowhood are replaced with insecurities in marital and parental relationships (Beaujot and Ravanera, 2001).

The people who will undertake this study include researchers involved in examining the relationship between family transformation and social cohesion. This proposed project would build on the research done on family transformation in order to understand how families impact on health in the context of economic and social changes at the macro and micro levels.

III. Analytical Framework and Research Topics / Questions

The proposed research will cover a number of relationships or pathways indicated in the framework (see Figure 1), which assumes that multi-level influences on health occur over the life course. The first set of studies - Family formation, fertility and health - would seek to understand the relations between the conditions of the parental family and the individual socio-economic situations including those brought about by family formation and dissolution (arrows 1, 2, and 3 in Figure 1). The second set - Family structure, economic security, and health over the life course - would examine the interplay between changes in the economic situations, the family, and health of children and adults (4, 5, 6, and 7). The final group of studies - Community, social cohesion and health - would look more closely at the health impact of communities including their economic condition and social cohesion (8, 9, and 10).

The studies will mostly make use of longitudinal data collected through Statistics Canada. The three (or four waves) of surveys will not allow analysis over the whole life course, but they would be of much use in the analysis of major transitions and changes that have occurred over a period of 6 to 8 years in the lives of Canadians. Whenever possible, community level data derived from other sources will be included in multi-level analysis.

The research questions, enumerated below for each type of research, are expected to have both direct and indirect relevance to health policies. They will also be relevant to policies related to families, education, and welfare, which have indirect impact on population and individual health.

A. Family formation, fertility, and health

On family formation - The influence on health of socio-economic conditions occurs at different stages of the life course starting from pre-natal stage. A low socio-economic position of mothers, for example, could affect the intra-uterine condition leading to low birth weight that is associated with a range of health outcomes from childhood to old age (Drever and Whitehead, 1997; Blane, D., 1999; Lynch and Kaplan, 2000). Thus, analysis of factors affecting family formation and other conditions leading to parenthood is an appropriate prelude to understanding the relations between health and economic change.

Starting from the 1980s, young Canadians have delayed their transition to adulthood. In comparison to their parents, young adults complete schooling, start regular work, leave the parental homes, and start marriage and parenthood at older ages (Ravanera, Rajulton, and Burch, 1998; Ravanera et al, 2002). While this could be viewed as putting a "generation on hold" (Cote and Allahar, 1994), this delay could also be seen as a strategy to cope with greater risks created by globalization. The young seek to minimize these risks by investing in human capital B they invest in themselves before they invest in reproduction. This also allows greater parental investment as resource flows from parents are stronger within households than across households (Beaujot, 2000).

But, while the general trend is to postpone family formation, there are variations by socio-economic positions - those with lower parental and personal resources tend towards earlier life course transitions (Ravanera, 1995; Ravanera, Rajulton, and Burch, 1998, 2002; Lochhead, 2000). For example, women whose mothers have elementary education had their first child 3 years earlier than those whose mothers had college education (Ravanera et al, 1998). Cohabitation, more common among those in low socioeconomic position, and union at a young age are associated with higher probabilities of union dissolution, most often ending in lone parenthood. And, compared to cohabiting, married, or single women, young formerly married women have greater number of children (Ravanera, 1995). All these lead to what may be termed as "bifurcation" of family formation and dissolution (Bianchi, 2000).

Figure 1: Family, Community, and Health in the Context of Economic Change Analytical Framework diagram

One of the research projects will compare by socio-economic positions the trajectories towards first birth and lone parenthood (through other early life course events of school completion, home-leaving, start of regular work, and first union). This will make use of retrospective longitudinal data collected through the 2001 General Social Survey of the Family and analyzed through LIFEHIST, a software package for event history analysis (Rajulton, 2001). This will address the following research questions: At what stage in the life course does the bifurcation by socio-economic conditions occur? Is there a gender difference? At what average age does this bifurcation start?

On fertility - A consequence of the general tendency to delay family formation is fewer children, a concern made urgent by Canada's aging population. However, postponement of child-bearing and deliberate decision to limit the number of children as a response to risks in a post-modern globalized society are not the only factors leading to Canada's below replacement fertility level. Norms and values relating to families in general and children in particular impact on fertility. Also, policies that affect gender sharing of paid and unpaid work (for example, policies on maternity /paternity leaves or on childcare) have impact on levels of fertility as well (Beaujot and Belanger, 2001; CPRN, 2002). These and other related determinants will be examined anew with the latest data on fertility (levels, motivations for having children, best timing, ideal number) for both men and women gathered through the 2001 General Social Survey on the Family and the qualitative Survey on Fertility in London, Ontario. Research questions to be addressed are: What do young Canadians perceive as incentives and disincentives to having children? Do these vary by gender? What family policy levers can be handled to influence fertility?

B. Family structure, economic security, and health over the life course

About 12 percent of Canadian families live in poverty (NCW, 1999). The poverty rate varies considerably by family structure; 51.8 percent of single mothers, 18.0 percent of single fathers, and 10.4 percent for two-parent families (NCW, 1999). An increase in the labour force participation of married women has led to substantial increases in total household incomes among two-parent families while demographic changes among lone parent families have limited their family incomes (McQuillan, 1992). The result has been a consistently wide income gap between two-parent and lone parent families, single mother families especially.

The effects of poverty on health are pervasive and pernicious. Economic disadvantage contributes to psychological distress among adults (Horwitz, 1984). Economic strains including job loss, economic hardship, and financial strain contribute to elevated levels of physical and mental health problems (Avison, 1998; Menaghan and Parcel, 1990; Mirowsky and Ross, 2001). Although employment generally benefits health, these benefits vary according to family structure and gender (Ali and Avison, 1997; Davies and McAlpine, 1998; Edin and Lein, 1997). For example, given the poor employment opportunities and limited childcare arrangements, employment may undermine health (Parcel and Menaghan, 1997; Davies and McAlpine, 1998). Role demands and responsibilities associated with single motherhood limit their ability to juggle work and family (McMullin et al., 2002). Greater attention to the health implications of mothers' work and family arrangements is needed.

There is little doubt that poverty has some effect on children's emotional well-being. Results from some of the classic studies of children's mental health suggest that rates of emotional and behavioural problems are significantly higher among children from disadvantaged circumstances (Langner et al., 1974; Rutter et al., 1973; Offord et al., 1987; Duncan and Brooks-Gunn, 1997). Children's well-being is a product of investment not only of financial but of human and social capital, the transfer of which mainly occurs within family settings (Beaujot, 2000). Studies on family transformation and social cohesion show that human and social capital affect the development of children as well as their integration into society (Kerr, 2001; Kerr and Beaujot, 2001; Ravanera, Rajulton and Turcotte, forthcoming; Ravanera, Rajulton and Burch, 2002).

This set of contextual factors that condition the relationship between economic security and health takes on added complexity when we consider another important factor: stage of life. Although there is a large body of literature on health across the life course (e.g. George, 1999, 2001), we know little about how the relationships among family status, economic insecurity and health vary with age. Virtually no research has examined whether the economic hardships experienced by lone parents have more pronounced effects among younger or older individuals, or what happens to single mothers in terms of economic security and health when their children leave home. (But see Galarneau and Sturrock, 1997; Galarneau, 1998.) Hughes and Waite (2002) speculate that changes in household structure over time affect health by varying the balance between perceived demands and the availability of resources to deal with such demands. Unfortunately, much of the research on these issues has been based on cross-sectional data, limiting our potential to address the life course.

Finally, reliance on cross-sectional data for policy development can be misleading. As Ali and Avison (1997) have pointed out, "policy and program interventions based on cross-sectional analyses may be at odds with interventions based on longitudinal analyses. Given that most interventions are designed to stimulate change, it seems advisable that the empirical basis for such initiatives be derived from change data rather than from static data. At the same time, however, reliance on longitudinal data must be accompanied by an awareness that there may be important differences between individuals whose status changes over time and those whose position in the social structure is more stable" (p. 360). Moreover, income and health trajectories are dynamic and sensitive to social change and political agendas (McMullin et al., 2002). We will capture the dynamics of change in family structure, income security, and health so that we can generate useful information for policy development.

To address our objectives, the proposed research will explore the following questions: How do changes in family status affect economic security and health of women and men? Does this vary by life course stage? How do changes in family status affect economic security and health of children? Does this vary by life course stage? What are the relations between children's health and socio-economic positions (indicated by amount and sources of parental income, duration of poverty spells, and timing of the occurrence of poverty)? Do these effects vary by age of children and by family structures? Do community characteristics make a difference in the impact of socio-economic position on children's physical health? Do these effects vary by regions? Do employment status and work conditions mediate or moderate the relationship between changes in family status and health? Is it possible to reformulate existing policy in a way that would effectively improve the economic security among a diverse group of mothers and their children, or do new policies need to be written to achieve this goal? What are the concrete policy solutions?

To answer these questions, we will draw on the National Population Health Survey (NPHS). We will do multiple and logistic regression analyses to examine the impact of transitions into and out of employment on changes in health outcomes (a) among those with stable employment with those who become unemployed, and (b) among those who are continuously unemployed with those who become employed, allowing us to focus on the health consequences of employment status changes between "movers" and "stayers" for all mothers and also by family structure. Strains and psychosocial resources will then be added to identify mechanisms through which transitions affect well-being for the two groups. In a series of parallel analyses, transitions into employment will be examined separately from transitions out of employment.

The analysis of the impact of socio-economic position (including sources and levels of income) on children's health necessarily call for the inclusion of other factors that have effects on children, the most important of which are those pertaining to families. Making use of the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth, this study will examine the physical and mental health of children at 4 stages: infancy and toddler, early childhood, late childhood, and early adolescence. The effects over time of level and sources of income and related factors such as family structures, mother=s education, mother's employment status, mother's age at birth of the child, and number of children in the family will be examined using techniques of analysis appropriate to longitudinal data including simple exploratory descriptive techniques to analyze changes such as turnover tables (Vermunt, 1997) and multivariate techniques such as structural equations models (Joreskog, 2000).

C. Family and community determinants of health

In the United States, studies have shown that social cohesion (or specifically, social capital) influences the individual's health-related behaviours; access to services and amenities, and psycho-social processes (Kawachi, 2000, Kawachi and Berkman, 2000, Kawachi, Wilkinson, and Kennedy, 1999). There is a concern that social capital in the United States and elsewhere is declining (Putnam, 1993, 2000) and that this is mainly due to increasing income inequality (Kawachi et al, 1999).

In contrast to the United States, Ross et al. (2000) find that there were no significant associations between mortality and income inequality in Canada. And, Tremblay, Ross, and Berthelot (2002) show that there is no strong influence of social environment on individual health status in Canada, a finding contrary to those in the US and Great Britain. They propose that this may be due to the range of social and health policies that prevent health inequalities by region. They noted, however, that social context effects (such as that of social capital) may be best detected at neighbourhood level rather than at the level of health regions.

Other studies have found health differentials by neighbourhood and regions in Canada. Health regions that differ in socio-demographic and economic characteristics also differ in life expectancies, disability-free life expectancies, and life styles such as, smoking, drinking, obesity, and depression (Shields and Tremblay, 2002; Mayer et al, 2002). And, while mortality differentials by neighbourhood income have decreased between 1971 and 1996, nevertheless, differentials persist for some causes of death and have widened for a few other causes (Wilkins, Berthelot and Ng, 2002).

Some of the health variations by region or neighbourhood could be due to the concentration of individuals of similar socio-economic status in certain areas (compositional effect) and thus, could be accounted for by individual-level characteristics. However, factors inherent to the neighbourhood or region (contextual effects) could not be ruled out. Some of these factors could be variations in socio-economic conditions (such as social cohesion or social capital, income inequality, or availability of health care facilities and services). Contextual effects could be detected mainly through the inclusion in an analysis of both community and individual-level factors B that is, through multi-level analysis.

Studies Using General Social Survey on Time Use and National Population Health Surveys. Integration, an indicator of social cohesion at the individual level, is affected by health status - those in good health are more likely to be economically included, politically participative, and feel stronger sense of belonging (Ravanera and Rajulton, 2001). This is a selection effect - those who are healthy select themselves into favourable economic and social positions. But, the relationship could be causal - less socially integrated individuals are also at increased risk of poor health outcomes (Kawachi, Wilkinson, and Kennedy, 1999).

Using the 1998 General Social Survey on Time Use merged with community variables derived from the 1996 census, this study will explore the relationship between the individual self-rated health status and the economic, political, and social dimensions of integration of Canadians at early, mid, and late life. It will examine (through multinomial logistic regression) individual self-rated health and how it is affected by individual integration, socio-economic positions (such as education, level and sources of income, work schedules and work-related stress) and by community features such as size and location, affluence, opportunity structures, and cultural homogeneity.

Data from the National Population Health Surveys will be similarly analyzed with focus on changes that have occurred between time points in health outcomes and in the variables of interest. In addition to health-related data, the NPHS also gathered information on economic inclusion and social involvement. To enable a multi-level analysis, data on community characteristics (from the census) and measures of social cohesion (derived from the National Survey of Giving, Volunteering, and Participating) will be attached to the individual longitudinal file making use of geographic indicator in the NPHS.

The proposed study would address research questions such as: Does the health impact of economic position (indicated by level and sources of income, change in employment status, or irregular work schedules) vary with political or social integration? Does it vary with region and community characteristics? For example, if the health effect of income transfer in the Atlantic differs from the rest of Canada, could it be attributed to difference in community cohesion?

Cross-sectional studies using Canadian Community Health Survey and Participation and Activity Limitation Survey. Several of the questions relating to family structure, economic security and community determinants can be further studied through the 2000-2001 Canadian Community Health Survey (Béland, 2002) and the 2001 Participation and Activity Limitation Survey (Statistics Canada, 2002a). As reported in Health Reports, these surveys have the advantage of particularly large sample sizes. The PALS also follows the 1986 and 1991 Health and Activity Limitations Surveys. Both have various measures of health and interaction with the health system, as well as measures of the determinants associated with family, socio-economic status and community.

Funded by Human Resources Development Canada, the PALS provides an alternate measure of health status, for the non-institutionalized population. There are measures of the types of disability, and their severity. The Canadian Community Health Survey also includes a measure of respondent's "sense of belonging to their local community." Ross (2002) finds that the differentials associated with reporting very good or excellent health are stronger by the five categories of sense of community belonging than by sex, age, marital status, presence of children under 12, currently has job, and residential area, but the differentials are stronger by education and by household income. These analyses need to be pursued further, including building a more complex measure of family status from the age, marital status and presence of children variables.

The CCHS includes a measure of "unmet health care needs," and contact with health care professionals. As seen in the 2002 How healthy are Canadians (Health Reports, 2002), the CCHS is useful for analysing both regional or community differences, and individual determinants of self-perceived health. This report includes analyses of regional differences in self-reported unmet health care needs (Tremblay et al., 2002), health of the off-reserve Aboriginal population (Tjepkema, 2002), the health status and health behaviour of immigrants (Pérez, 2002a) and the mental health of Canada's immigrants (Ali, 2002). The same survey was used to analyse shift work and health (Shields, 2002), and the influence of fruit and vegetable consumption (Pérez, 2002), in earlier issues of Health Reports. An analysis of Regional socioeconomic context and health (Statistics Canada 2002b) finds that individual factors such as education and income, and health-related risk factors, such as obesity, play a larger role than the regional socioeconomic context in which the respondent lives. The health measures include various chronic conditions, long-term activity restriction and major depressive episode, while the health behaviour include smoking status, body mass index, alcohol consumption and physical activity.

These data sets will allow us to pursue various cross-sectional analyses. For instance, we are interested to analyse further the influence of non-standard work patterns that the time-use survey has found to have rather disruptive effects on family time (Rapoport and Le Bourdais, 2002. Lapierre-Adamcyk, 2002). Since few surveys have measures of community belonging, the CCHS will provide a measure of social cohesion, which can be further related to family status and health. The other measures of socio-economic status, including education and income, will provide further determinants, at least for purposes of control. The size of the surveys also permit analyses on various sub-populations, such as recently arrived immigrants and First Nations Peoples, who may have different access to health services.

To sum up, the links between the family and community to health (see Figure 1) will be examined using existing cross-sectional and longitudinal data and appropriate techniques. Seven investigators will collaborate with defined responsibilities based on each investigator's research expertise and interests.

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Mirowsky, J. and C. E. Ross. 2001. "Neighborhood Disadvantage, Disorder, and Health." Journal of Health and Social Behavior 42:258-267.

National Council on Welfare. 1999. Poverty Profile 1999. Ottawa: www.ncwcnbs.net/htmdocument/reportpovertypro99/Introduction.html

Offord, D. R., M. H. Boyle, and B.R. Jones. 1987. "Psychiatric Disorder and Poor School Performance Among Welfare Children in Ontario." Canadian Journal of Psychiatry 32:518-525.

Parcel, T. L. and E. G. Menaghan. 1997. "Effects of Low-Wage Employment on Family Well-Being" The Future of Children (Special Issue on Welfare to Work) 7: 116-121

Pérez, C.E. 2002. Health Status and Health Behaviour among Immigrants. Supplement to Health Reports 13: 89-100.

Pérez, C.E. 2002a. Fruit and Vegetable Consumption. Health Reports 13(3): 23-32.

Putnam, R. 1993. Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy. Princeton University Press.

Putnam, R.D. 2000. Bowling Alone : The Collapse and Revival of American Community. New York : Simon & Schuster.
Putnam, 1993, 1995

Rajulton, F. 2001. Analysis of Life Histories: A State Space Approach. Canadian Studies in Population 28(2): 341-359.

Rapoport, B. and C. Le Bourdais, 2002. Parental Time and Working Schedules. Family Transformation and Social Cohesion paper. Available at http://www.ssc.uwo.ca/sociology/ftsc/

Ravanera, Z. 1995. "A Portrait of the Family Life of Young Adults." In R. Beaujot, E.M. Gee, F. Rajulton, and Z.R. Ravanera, eds., Family over the Life Course. Ottawa: Statistics Canada, cat. no. 91-543.

Ravanera, Z. F. Rajulton, and T. K. Burch. 1998. "Early Life Transitions of Canadian Women: A Cohort Analysis of Timing, Sequences, and Variations." European Journal of Population 14: 179-204.

Ravanera, Z. and F. Rajulton. 2001. Integration at Late Life: Inclusion, Participation, and Belonging among the Elderly. Population Studies Centre Discussion Paper 01- 16. Paper presented at the 2001 Meeting of the Federation of Canadian Demographers. Ottawa.

Ravanera, Z. R., F. Rajulton, and T.K. Burch. 2002. "Effects of Community and Family Characteristics on Early Life Transitions of Canadian Youth". University of Western Ontario, Population Studies Center Discussion Paper 02-05. Paper Presented at the 2002 Annual Meeting of the Population Association of America. Atlanta.

Ravanera, Z.R. F. Rajulton, T.K. Burch and C. Le Bourdais. 2002. The Early Life Courses of Canadian Men: Analysis of Timing and Sequences of Events; Canadian Studies in Population. 29: 293-312.

Ravanera, Z., F. Rajulton, and P. Turcotte. (Forthcoming). Youth Integration and Social Capital: An Analysis of the Canadian General Social Surveys on Time Use.
Youth and Society.

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Statistics Canada. 2002b. Regional Socio-economic Context and Health. The Daily, August 1.

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Studies Included

The research project examines the multi-level influences on health over the life course and consists of three sets of studies:

  • Family formation, fertility and health - seeks to understand the relations to health and fertility of the conditions of the parental family and their socio-economic situations.
  • Family structure, economic security, and health over the life course - examines the interplay between changes in the economic situations, the family, and health of children and adults.
  • Community, social cohesion and health - looks more closely at the health impact of communities including their economic condition and social cohesion.

The studies will make use of survey data collected by Statistics Canada:

  • National Population Health Surveys
  • National Longitudinal Surveys on Children and Youth
  • Canadian Community Health Survey
  • Participation and Activity Limitation Survey
  • 1998 General Social Survey on Time Use
  • 2001 General Social Survey on Family History

Papers and Publications

Conference Papers

Internal Union for the Scientific Study of Population
Tours, France

Fernando Rajulton and Jianlin Niu. 2005. Health over the Life Course: A Chain Graph Model of Inter-relationships among Socio-demographic, Societal and Lifestyle Factors.

Don Kerr and Joseph Michalski. 2005. Family Structures and Children’s Behavioral Problems: A Latent Growth Curve Analysis.

Society for the Study of Social Problems
San Francisco, CA.

William R. Avison and Lorraine Davies. 2004. Family structure, financial strain, and psychological distress in the context of the life course. A related paper, Family Structure, Gender, and Health in the Context of the Life Course, will appear in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Aging Studies.

Bill Avison also received the 2004 James R. Greenley Award for Distinguished Contributions to the Sociology of Mental Health. The award was presented by the Society for the Study of Social Problems in recognition of Avison's distinctive contributions to the study of social factors and their relationships with mental health.

Health Inequalities Across the Life Course
Penn State University, University Park, PA

 

William R. Avison. 2004. The mental health consequences of marital disruption.

The Ninth International Conference on Social Stress Research
Montreal, PQ

William R. Avison and Lorraine Davies. 2004. Financial strain, family structure and psychological distress across the life course.

International Conference on Work-Life Balance across the Life Course
Edinburgh, June 30-July 2, 2004

Roderic Beaujot and Robert Andersen. 2004. Stress and adult health: Impact of time spent in paid and unpaid work, and its division in families.

     abstract
Based on a sample representative of the Canadian population aged 30-59, this paper assess the impact of time spent on productive activities, and various types of activities, on stress and health. The main finding is that the number of hours spent is a better predictor of stress than is the type of activity. Moreover, the effects of paid and unpaid work are additive rather than multiplicative. That is, the more people work, regardless of what they are doing, the more likely they are to feel stressed. The effects are similar, though weaker, for health, reflecting that the effects of hours worked are more likely to be long term and that there is probably an endogenous relation between health and current labour force status.

Zenaida R. Ravanera and Fernando Rajulton. 2004. Work and Family Life Trajectories of Young Canadians: Evidence from the 2001 General Social Survey

     abstract
The study uses Statistics Canada’s 2001 General Social Survey on Family History and focuses on men and women born from 1966 to 1975. The timing and trajectories of transitions by social status are examined for events related to work (school completion and start of regular work) and family life (home-leaving, first union, and first birth). Some of the findings of the study are: The onset of parenthood differs by social status with differences larger for women than men. The normatively preferred trajectory wherein parenthood is preceded by graduation from post-secondary education, regular work, and marriage is common mainly for those with high social status. Becoming parents without marrying is more likely among those with low status; and the age at onset of parenthood is largely determined by the number of prior transitions.
2004 Annual Meeting of the Canadian Population Society
Winnipeg, June 3-5

Amir Erfani and Roderic Beaujot. Attitudes towards childbearing: A generational shift in the orientation to family and childbearing.

Alain Gagnon. 2004. Mother’s Death, Sibling Care and Child Survival in Past Québec.
This is the second part of a study on mother's death, sibling care and child survival in Quebec's historical population. The first part is forthcoming in Journal of Biosocial Science.

     abstract
Many studies focussed on maternal care as a major determinant of child survival but few addressed the impact of the complete lack of maternal care. Using comprehensive data on the early Quebec population, evidence is provided for a higher risk of dying for motherless children that remains significant over childhood. No differential between genders was detected before age 3, but older girls suffered a three-fold higher susceptibility to mother’s death than their male counterparts. This suggests that grown-up girls who assumed the responsibilities of the missing mother had a lower chance of survival. The second phase of the analysis shows that motherless children, particularly boys, had a higher chance of survival if they had older sisters in the household. The presence of older brothers seems to have no impact on chances of survival of their younger siblings, which supports our hypothesis that girls take over responsibilities when mother is missing.

Don Kerr. Family structure and child outcomes: an illusive relationship.
Don Kerr and Joseph Michalski wrote a related paper entitled Family Structures and Children's Behavioral Problems: A Latent Growth Curve Analysis.

     abstract
This paper examines the impact of family structures upon children’s externalizing behavioral problems using data from the 1994-2000 National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth. A latent growth curve modelling approach compares children who have lived continuously over the 6-year period in intact families, in lone-parent families, and in stepfamilies, and families where parents divorced or separated in the period 1994 to 2000. The results highlight the positive impact of living in intact families and the greater risks experienced by children living in stepfamilies. Children in lone-parent families experienced an initial disadvantage, but improved significantly over time.

Yimin Lou. An empirical study of the “healthy immigrant effect” with Canadian Community Health Survey

Ravanera, Zenaida R. and Fernando Rajulton. Social Status Polarization in the Timing and Trajectories to Motherhood.

     abstract
This paper examines the polarization by socio-economic status of Canadian women’s timing of and trajectories to motherhood. The study uses data gathered through the 2001 GSS on Family History and focuses on women born from 1922 to 1980. Women with high social status are more likely to delay their entry into motherhood and to follow trajectories that include graduation from post-secondary education. In contrast, women with low social status are more likely to follow shorter routes, often bypassing graduation from post-secondary education, regular work, or marriage, and consequently start motherhood at younger age.
2004 Annual Meeting of the Population Association of America
Boston, April 1-3

Beaujot, Roderic and Amir Erfani. 2004. Attitudes that Differentiate Alternative Family Sizes.

     abstract
Taking advantage of both a national survey on families (Canadian General Social Survey, 2001) and a local qualitative survey (Orientations to Relationships and Childbearing over the Life Course, 2000), this paper studies the attitudes that differentiate respondents who indicate alternate expected or completed family size. While we find some evidence of differing values that differentiate those intending not to have children, there is more evidence of a common culture of reproduction than of heterogeneity in preferences. The alternative outcomes in family size would also appear to be a function of the difficulties experienced in relationships and problems of financial security, given the felt need to make high investments for each child.

Ravanera, Zenaida and Fernando Rajulton. 2004. Bifurcation by Social Status in the Onset of Fatherhood.

     abstract
This study analyzes the onset of fatherhood of Canadian men. It examines whether there is a bifurcation by socio-economic status in men’s timing of and trajectories toward fatherhood. Young Canadians have delayed their transition to adulthood including having a child but there is a concern that those with lower parental and personal resources make the transition at younger ages and are thus more likely to separate or divorce. This concern has been mainly expressed about women but the same may hold true for men as well. The study uses data gathered through Statistics Canada’s 2001 General Social Survey on Family History and focuses on men born from 1922 to 1985. It makes use of event history techniques of analysis including single decrement life tables, hazard models, and sequence analysis.

Papers presented at Project Workshops

Workshops held in September - November, 2004 and January, 2005:

Young Canadians’ Timing of and Trajectories to Parenthood: Social Status and Gender Differentials
Zenaida R. Ravanera and Fernando Rajulton.

Stress and adult health: Impact of time spent in paid and unpaid work, and its division in families
Roderic Beaujot and Robert Andersen

Family structure, financial strain, and psychological distress in the context of the life course
William R. Avison and Lorraine Davies

Family structures and children's behavioral problems: A Latent Growth Curve analysis
Don Kerr and Joseph Michalski

These four papers were summarized in a presentation at the Second Roundtable on Health and Economy Research held in Ottawa on February 28, 2005.

2005 Workshop

Perceived threat, coping resources and adolescent mental health
Teresa Abada, Feng Hou and Bali Ram
March 4

Marital and Parental Status, Perceived Stress and Mediating Factors
Ali Muhammad and Alain Gagnon
March 18

Workshop on how to make policy recommendations from research outcomes
Nancy Ross
April 18

Use of Graphical Modelling in the Analysis of the National Population and Health Surveys
Rajulton Fernando and Jianlin Niu.
May 6

Literature Review

Morgan, Kate. 2004. The Family, Community and Health in the Context of Economic Change: Literature Review 1

     introduction
This summary presents a review of recent literature for studies related to ‘Family Structure, Economic Security, and Health over the Life Course’. By providing an outline of the existing knowledge in the area, it can help develop the theoretical background required for further investigations. This review will help inform the following research questions outlined in the research proposal: 1) How do changes in family status affect economic security and health of women and men? Does this vary by life course? 2) How do changes in family status affect economic security and health of children? Does this vary by life course stage? What are the relationships between children’s health and socio-economic positions? 3) Do community characteristics make a difference in the impact of socio-economic position on children’s physical (and psychological) health? Do these effects vary by regions? 4) Do employment status and work conditions mediate or moderate the relationship between changes in family status and health?

Tenkorang, Eric. 2004. The Family, Community and Health in the Context of Economic Change: Literature Review 2

     introduction
This literature review is on the subject of family formation, fertility and health. It begins with union formation and dissolution, which looks at the socio-economic and demographic factors explaining delayed entry into marital relationships and dissolution. This is followed by theories of fertility decline, which provides insights into important correlates of fertility. We also look at the implications of family formation and dissolution on fertility in the third subsection titled union formation and fertility.

Zahid, Mustafa. 2004. The Family, Community and Health in the Context of Economic Change Project: A Literature Review 3

     introduction
This bibliography includes empirical and theoretical studies related to “Family and Community Determinants of Health”, an area of research under the Family, Community, and Health in the Context of Economic Change Project. The materials are organized into the following 5 sub-topics: (1) Health Status, Health Care Utilization, and Health-related Behavior of Immigrants; (2) Socioeconomic Status and Health; (3) Maternal Education and Reproductive Health, Child Health Status, and Health Service Utilization; (4) The Changing Demographics of Aging Population and Current Health Status; (5) Miscellaneous/General Topics in Health.

Roderic P. Beaujot, Professor Emeritus
Leader, Population Change and Lifecourse Strategic Knowledge Cluster

Roderic Beaujot
  • Demographics and implications for social policy

rbeaujot@uwo.ca
519-661-2111 x83689
SSC 5212
office hours: by appointment
Faculty Profile

Co-Investigators: