Analysing gaps in child health in the UK: a "weathering" hypothesis perspective

Alice Goisis and Wendy Sigle-Rushton, London School of Economics and Politcal Science

[Project number 30143]

It is well established that, across a range of countries, ethnic minority women are more likely to have poorer birth outcomes than white women. U.S. research has also demonstrated that the excess risk of poor birth outcomes (e.g. infant mortality, low birth weight and preterm birth) for black women compared to white women tends to increase with the age of the mother. Researchers have suggested that this age pattern may be due to black women's greater risk of exposure to cumulative health disadvantages, something referred to as the "weathering hypothesis". In the U.K., an ethnically diverse country with high levels of inequality and residential segregation, the "weathering" perspective has not been adopted to analyse gaps in child health. Using a "weathering hypothesis perspective", this paper aims to analyse gaps in low birth weight in the U.K.

Building on existing research findings, we explore whether ethnic and social class gaps in low birth weight increase with age as predicted by the weathering hypothesis literature. We will also assess how gaps in this child health measure vary according to area characteristics, such as economic (advantaged vs. disadvantaged areas) and levels of environmental stressors (such as crime). The analyses will focus on the following ethnic groups: Whites, Black African, Black Caribbean, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Indians. Analyses will be done separately for first and all order births. The logistic models will include controls for birth order (for analyses done on all order births), migration status and basic child's characteristic (gender and whether the child is a twin). In addition, we will evaluate whether it might be appropriate to extend the analyses to another measure, namely whether the child was still vs. live born.

The sample consists of females enumerated at the 2001 Census who had a live birth in or after 2000.