23 Nov 2017

Recent Articles in Population Research and Policy Review RSS


Trajectories of Unintended Fertility

Abstract

Having an unintended birth is strongly associated with the likelihood of having later unintended births. We use detailed longitudinal data from the Add Health Study (N = 8300) to investigate whether a host of measured sociodemographic, personality, and psychosocial characteristics select women into this “trajectory” of unintended childbearing. While some measured characteristics and aspects of the unfolding life course are related to unintended childbearing, explicitly modeling these effects does not greatly attenuate the association of an unintended birth with a subsequent one. Next, we statistically control for unmeasured time-invariant covariates that affect all birth intervals, and again find that the association of an unintended birth with subsequent ones remains strong. This persistent, strong association may be the direct result of experiencing an earlier unintended birth. We propose several mechanisms that might explain this strong association.


Interracial Marriage and Self-Reported Health of Whites and Blacks in the United States

Abstract

This study examines the self-reported health of 180,291 married non-Hispanic blacks and whites in interracial versus endogamous marriages. Data are from the National Health Interview Survey pooled over the period 1997–2013. The results from ordinal logistic regressions show that non-Hispanic whites intermarried with non-Hispanic blacks, non-Hispanic whites intermarried with non-Hispanic other races, and non-Hispanic white women with Hispanic husbands report significantly poorer health than their endogamous counterparts. Furthermore, non-Hispanic whites with non-Hispanic black spouses also fare worse than their interracially married peers with Hispanic spouses. In contrast, the self-reported health of married non-Hispanic blacks shows no significant difference between the interracially and the endogamously married. Our findings highlight the theoretical significance of spousal characteristics and couple-level contexts in the household production of health.


Hispanic Concentrated Poverty in Traditional and New Destinations, 2010–2014

Abstract

This paper examines patterns of Hispanic concentrated poverty in traditional, new, and minor destinations. Using data from 2010 to 2014 from the American Community Survey, we find that without controlling for group characteristics, Hispanics experience a lower level of concentrated poverty in new destinations compared to traditional gateways. Metropolitan level factors explain this difference, including ethnic residential segregation, the Hispanic poverty rate, and the percentage of Hispanics who are foreign born. Overall, this study sheds new light on the Hispanic geographic dispersal in the United States and offers support for the argument that the Hispanic settlement into new destinations is associated with lower levels of concentrated poverty.


An Alternative to Fixed Transition Probabilities for the Projection of Interprovincial Migration in Canada

Abstract

Internal migration plays a critical role in subnational population projections. The multiregional model is often seen as a gold standard, for its capacity to project several interconnected regions simultaneously and coherently. However, undesirable effects may occur when assumptions of constant transition probabilities are used. This paper investigates these limits, explores a few solutions provided in the literature and describes the alternative methodology used by Statistics Canada in its most recent edition of population projections for the Canadian provinces and territories. Among other things, the new method is shown to improve the consistency between internal migration assumptions and results and to facilitate the projection of the uncertainty associated with this component.


Neighborhood Priority or Desegregation Plans? A Spatial Analysis of Voting on San Francisco’s Student Assignment System

Abstract

In 2011, San Francisco held an unprecedented citywide vote on its public schools’ student assignment policy. Proposition H provides a unique opportunity to learn more about the public’s desire for “neighborhood schools,” as compared to their interest in maintaining districtwide desegregation efforts. This paper takes the approach of applying geographic information system tools and regression analysis to understand the relationships between neighborhood, race, income, and attitudes toward student assignment systems. By comparing the election results with demographics and school quality data, we identify patterns of support for the narrowly defeated proposition. Support for a shift toward neighborhood-based schools was higher in census tracts with high-performing schools, more school age children, high median income, or a large fraction of foreign-born residents, and lower in tracts with a high percentage of Latinos. The shifting race- and class-based politics of the city foreshadow expected demographic shifts in the US.


Religion, Contraceptive Method Mix, and Son Preference Among Bengali-Speaking Community of Indian Subcontinent

Abstract

This paper examines the influence of religion on contraceptive method mix in the context of son preference among Bengali-speaking population of eastern India (i.e., West Bengal and Tripura) and Bangladesh. In spite of cultural similarity and parallel programmatic approach to family planning in these two distinct geopolitical spaces, differential use of contraception is evident. Using National Family Health Survey (2005–2006) and Bangladesh Demographic Health Survey (2007) and by employing sequential logit model, the paper finds evidence of latent son preference in adoption of modern contraception in Bengali-speaking Hindu and Muslim communities of eastern India. However, such practice is observed only among Hindus in Bangladesh. The paper further argues that although diffusion of the culture of son preference cuts across religious groups among Bengali-speaking community in eastern India, religious identity dominates over region in Bangladesh, encouraging minority Hindus to adopt a distinct pattern of contraceptive behavior with reference to sons. Such finding calls for further research in understanding the pros and cons of behavioral diffusion in majority–minority population mix in similar tradition and culture.


Fragile Employment, Liquid Love: Employment Instability and Divorce in Israel

Abstract

The study examines the relationship between the employment stability of first-marriage couples and risk of divorce in Israel. This research question is of particular interest owing to the centrality of the family in Israeli society, rising divorce rates, and increasing employment instability and “deregulation” of the labor market. We capture employment instability through two dimensions: the pattern of employment instability within couples and the continuity of each partner’s employment instability. We utilize this conceptualization to identify the link between employment instability and divorce, focusing on gender and socioeconomic resources. Data were from combined Israeli census files for 1995–2008, annual administrative employment records from the National Insurance Institute and the Tax Authority, and the Civil Registry of Divorce (N = 10,891 couples). Using a series of discrete-time event-history analysis models, findings indicate that husbands’ employment instability, especially when wives have stable employment, increases the risk of divorce; employment stability continuity has opposite gender effects on that risk; and the effect of employment instability on divorce remains significant after taking into account household economic resources. The findings reveal asymmetric gender patterns of the effect of employment instability on divorce, beyond the socioeconomic resources of the household.


Estimating Educational Differences in Low-Risk Cesarean Section Delivery: A Multilevel Modeling Approach

Abstract

U.S. rates of cesarean section, and in particular, low-risk cesarean section (LRC) births rose dramatically across the late 1990s and early 2000s, and have since remained high. Although previous research explores how trends in LRC vary between states and across maternal characteristics, within-state heterogeneity has not yet been accounted for, nor has the extent to which maternal and county characteristics might interact to shape the likelihood of a LRC birth. Using U.S. county-level birth data for years 2008–2010 from the restricted National Vital Statistics Systems Cohort Linked Birth-Infant Death Files and the Area Health Resource Files, I conduct race-stratified multilevel analyses to explore the association between the mother’s education, the income of the county in which she gives birth, and the odds of LRC delivery. I find that regardless of race/ethnicity, less education at the individual level and lower income at the county level are associated with higher odds of LRC delivery. There are also persistent racial disparities in these relationships. Non-Hispanic black mothers have the highest overall odds of LRC delivery, yet the effect of both education and county income is greatest for non-Hispanic white mothers. The results highlight the importance of analyzing both individual resources and contextual effects of the county when assessing birthing processes, as both contribute to a mother’s access to and knowledge of natal care.


Insights from the Evaluation of Past Local Area Population Forecasts

Abstract

Local area population forecasts have a wide variety of uses in the public and private sectors. But not enough is known about the errors of such forecasts, particularly over the longer term (20 years or more). Understanding past errors is valuable for both forecast producers and users. This paper (i) evaluates the forecast accuracy of past local area population forecasts published by Australian State and Territory Governments over the last 30 years and (ii) illustrates the ways in which past error distributions can be employed to quantify the uncertainty of current forecasts. Population forecasts from the past 30 years were sourced from State and Territory Governments. Estimated resident populations to which the projections were compared were created for the geographical regions of the past projections. The key features of past forecast error patterns are described. Forecast errors mostly confirm earlier findings with regard to the relationship between error and length of projection horizon and population size. The paper then introduces the concept of a forecast ‘shelf life’, which indicates how far into the future a forecast is likely to remain reliable. It also illustrates how past error distributions can be used to create empirical prediction intervals for current forecasts. These two complementary measures provide a simple way of communicating the likely magnitude of error that can be expected with current local area population forecasts.


Dynamics of Economic Security Among the Aging in Mexico: 2001–2012

Abstract

Similar to other developing countries, population aging in Mexico has accelerated, raising concerns that economic disparities will widen even more. We use data from the Mexican Health and Aging Study for 2001 and 2012 to derive measures of economic security—income and its sources, and wealth and its components—and describe how they changed over time and varied across key characteristics. The database is unique for a developing country: longitudinal and spanning a relatively long time period, and nationally representative of older persons (n = 12,400; ages 50+). We conduct descriptive analysis for the full sample, and for sub-samples defined by “safety net” indicators, health status, and demographic characteristics. Given that this time period included crucial economic and social changes in Mexico, we derive period results, measuring differences across time in two cross sections; and longitudinal results, capturing changes among individuals as they age. In-depth examination of income and wealth identifies important contributors to old-age economic security in Mexico; we confirm several expected patterns and provide first evidence about others. Older adults with low income and asset values in Mexico have less diverse income sources and asset types; real incomes of older persons decreased substantially, and their income and asset portfolios became less diverse over the period. With older age, Mexicans relied more heavily on transfers and family help, and less on earnings. Overall, limited safety net options and worse health conditions were associated with less robust and deteriorating economic profiles.


Race Disparities in Pubertal Timing: Implications for Cardiovascular Disease Risk Among African American Women

Abstract

Compared to white girls, sexual maturation is accelerated in African American girls as measured by indicators of pubertal development, including age at first menses. Increasing epidemiological evidence suggests that the timing of pubertal development may have strong implications for cardio-metabolic health in adolescence and adulthood. In fact, younger menarcheal age has been related prospectively to poorer cardiovascular risk factor profiles, a worsening of these profiles over time, and an increase in risk for cardiovascular events, including non-fatal incident cardiovascular disease and cardiovascular-specific and all-cause mortality. Yet, because this literature has been limited almost exclusively to white girls/women, whether this same association is present among African American girls/women has not been clarified. In the current narrative review, the well-established vulnerability of African American girls to experience earlier pubertal onset is discussed as are findings from literatures examining the health outcomes of earlier pubertal timing and its antecedents, including early life adversity exposures often experienced disproportionately in African American girls. Gaps in these literatures are highlighted especially with respect to the paucity of research among minority girls/women, and a conceptual framework is posited suggesting disparities in pubertal timing between African American and white girls may partially contribute to well-established disparities in adulthood risk for cardio-metabolic disease between African American and white women. Future research in these areas may point to novel areas for intervention in preventing or lessening the heightened cardio-metabolic risk among African American women, an important public health objective.


How the Social Environment Gets Under the Skin

Abstract

The impact of the social environment on human health and development is a common theme among demographers and population dynamics researchers. Less clear are the paths and mechanisms through which the social environment ‘gets under the skin.’ This special issue of Population Research and Policy Review presents five papers that address current scientific thinking on these paths and mechanisms.


Poverty and Problem Behaviors across the Early Life Course: The Role of Sensitive Period Exposure

Abstract

Research routinely finds that children exposed to poverty exhibit more problem behaviors than their nonexposed counterparts. This research, however, lacks developmental specificity with regard to timing and the pathways by which poverty exposures manifest across the early life course. I utilized 15 years of prospective data from the Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development to assess how poverty exposures and financial strains at different ages (0–1, 2–5, and 15) were related to problem behaviors during early childhood (ages 2–5), late childhood (ages 5–12), and adolescence (age 15). Results show that poverty exposures during infancy and to a lesser extent early childhood were robust predictors of problem behaviors in early childhood, late childhood, and adolescence because they were linked to more problem behaviors at younger ages, which persisted over time. These associations partially operated through financial strain. Poverty during adolescence was mostly unrelated to problem behaviors during adolescence after taking into account exposures at younger ages. Overall, this study provided initial evidence that poverty exposure during infancy may have lasting implications for problem behaviors across the early life course.


Neighbourhood Ethnic Density Effects on Behavioural and Cognitive Problems Among Young Racial/Ethnic Minority Children in the US and England: A Cross-National Comparison

Abstract

Studies on adult racial/ethnic minority populations show that the increased concentration of racial/ethnic minorities in a neighbourhood—a so-called ethnic density effect—is associated with improved health of racial/ethnic minority residents when adjusting for area deprivation. However, this literature has focused mainly on adult populations, individual racial/ethnic groups, and single countries, with no studies focusing on children of different racial/ethnic groups or comparing across nations. This study aims to compare neighbourhood ethnic density effects on young children’s cognitive and behavioural outcomes in the US and in England. We used data from two nationally representative birth cohort studies, the US Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort and the UK Millennium Cohort Study, to estimate the association between own ethnic density and behavioural and cognitive development at 5 years of age. Findings show substantial heterogeneity in ethnic density effects on child outcomes within and between the two countries, suggesting that ethnic density effects may reflect the wider social and economic context. We argue that researchers should take area deprivation into account when estimating ethnic density effects and when developing policy initiatives targeted at strengthening and improving the health and development of racial and ethnic minority children.


Theoretical Insights into Preconception Social Conditions and Perinatal Health: The Role of Place and Social Relationships

Abstract

Recent efforts to explain the stark social and racial disparities in adverse birth outcomes that have persisted for decades in the U.S. have looked beyond prenatal factors, to explore preconception social conditions that may influence perinatal health via dysregulation of physiologic processes. The extant evidence supporting this link however remains limited, both due to a lack of data and theory. To address the latter, this manuscript generates a structured set of theoretical insights that further develop the link between two preconception social conditions—place and social relationships—and perinatal health. The insights propose the following. Place: necessarily encompasses all social contexts to which females are exposed from infancy through young adulthood; encompasses a variety of related exposures that, when possible, should be jointly considered; and may compound the effect of poverty—in childhood, adolescence, or young adulthood—on perinatal health. Social relationships: span relationships from early life through adulthood, and extend to intergenerational associations; often involve (or induce) major changes in the lives of individuals and should be examined with an emphasis on the developmental stage in which the change occurred; and can reflect a lack of social integration, or, social isolation. We also identify potential biological and social-structural mechanisms linking these preconception social conditions to perinatal health, and conclude by identifying promising directions for future research.


Discrimination, Sleep, and Stress Reactivity: Pathways to African American-White Cardiometabolic Risk Inequities

Abstract

This review provides a model explicating two related physiologic and behavioral pathways through which the chronic daily stress of the expectation and experience of discrimination exposure can shape life course cardiometabolic risk trajectories: sleep and stress reactivity. We argue that these two pathways work together jointly to shape African American-White disparities in cardiometabolic morbidities. The body’s ongoing anticipation of experiencing racism-related stressors disrupts sleep, a behavior highly responsive to stress reactivity, which is also elevated during stressful conditions. The constant feedback between sleep disruption and the body’s stress response can lead to higher allostatic load and disproportionate exposure to stress-related illness among African Americans earlier in their life course.


Getting Under the Skin: Children’s Health Disparities as Embodiment of Social Class

Abstract

Social class gradients in children’s health and development are ubiquitous across time and geography. The authors develop a conceptual framework relating three actions of class—material allocation, salient group identity, and inter-group conflict—to the reproduction of class-based disparities in child health. A core proposition is that the actions of class stratification create variation in children’s mesosystems and microsystems in distinct locations in the ecology of everyday life. Variation in mesosystems (e.g., health care, neighborhoods) and microsystems (e.g., family structure, housing) become manifest in a wide variety of specific experiences and environments that produce the behavioral and biological antecedents to health and disease among children. The framework is explored via a review of theoretical and empirical contributions from multiple disciplines, and high-priority areas for future research are highlighted.


The Discrepancy Between Ideal and Actual Parity in Hong Kong: Fertility Desire, Intention, and Behavior

Abstract

The total fertility rate of Hong Kong has remained below 1.3 children per woman for about three decades, but it is still unknown whether this ultra-low fertility is driven by a downward shift in people’s fertility desires, or by low fertility intention. This study investigates the fertility desires and fertility intentions of married women via a parity-specific approach, using data from the knowledge, attitude, and practice survey conducted in 2012. The results show that the average ideal parity has shifted to sub-replacement level, indicating that the “two-child family” ideal is waning. The logistic regressions show that the determinants of low fertility intentions vary across parities: marital life satisfaction, household income, and good communication with husbands regarding childbearing are positively associated with first-birth intentions; wives’ part-time work depresses second-birth intentions; wives’ full-time work and gender inequality in the division of housework are negatively associated with third-birth intentions. It is noteworthy that fertility desire has become a strong predictor of fertility intention—especially related to first and second births, independent of other socioeconomic factors. Motivations for childbearing and difficulties in childrearing also differ across actual parities. These results should be applicable to women in other high-income Asian countries. The formulation of any pronatalist policy in Hong Kong should consider these parity-specific differences to enhance its effectiveness.


Continued Success or Caught in the Housing Bubble? Black Immigrants and the Housing Market Crash

Abstract

The recent housing market crisis in the United States led to a drastic drop in homeownership and house values nationwide. While research documents the disproportionate impact of the housing market crisis on blacks, and the surprisingly small effect on immigrants, no research investigates how individuals who are both black and immigrants fared. I use 2005–2007 and 2009–2011 pooled American Community Survey data (N = 2,000,689 and 2,013,001, respectively) to determine whether black immigrants’ housing market outcomes mirrored that of U.S.-born blacks or other immigrants during the housing crisis. Using the maximum likelihood estimator regression with a Heckman correction to measure race and nativity differences in homeownership and house value, I find that there is a great deal of diversity in black immigrant housing market outcomes. Caribbean immigrants experienced significantly larger drops in homeownership than U.S.-born whites and blacks and Asian immigrants, but there is no significant difference between whites and African immigrants. Consistent with previous research, living in major settlement areas meditated black immigrants’ housing market disadvantage. Despite the benefits of living in a co-ethnic community, both African and Caribbean immigrants experienced significantly larger drops in house value than U.S.-born blacks and whites and Asian immigrants. These findings indicate that black immigrants’ housing options are more rather than less constrained than U.S.-born blacks after the housing market crash. Given that the bulk of black wealth is held in home equity, reduced house values may also have long-term consequences on black immigrants’ ability to make, maintain, and pass on wealth across generations.


Majority Rules: Gender Composition and Sexual Norms and Behavior in High Schools

Abstract

Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, we examine the relationship between the gender composition of high schools and sexual ideals, attitudes, and behaviors reported by 12,617 students. Theory predicts that a surplus of females in a dating market gives males greater bargaining power to achieve their underlying preference for avoiding committed relationships and engaging in casual sex. We find relationships between the gender composition of a high school and sexual norms and behaviors that depart from this theoretical prediction: In high schools in which girls outnumber boys, students report a less sexually permissive normative climate and girls report less casual sex compared with their counterparts at schools in which boys outnumber girls. Our results inform predictions about social consequences following from the feminization of school institutions.