STUDY OBJECTIVE: Reduction of health inequalities is a primary public health target in many countries. A change of proportion of low income families might affect child health inequalities. Yet, the importance of family incomes in high income welfare states is not well established. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of increased percentage of low income families on child health inequalities during an economic recession in Sweden, 1991-1996. DESIGN: Health inequalities for six health indicators were assessed during the period 1991-1996 and during adjacent periods. Relative inequality indices were estimated according to Pamuk and Mackenback. Appraisal of a child's socioeconomic situation was based on social data for the child's residency area. SETTING: The total population of children and adolescents 0-
The objective of this study was to examine the relationship between duration of poverty and the health of preschool children in the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development birth cohort.
Data from the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development for 1950 children who were followed annually up to age 3 years were analyzed. Poverty was defined as having an income below the low-income cutoff from Statistics Canada. Five health indicators were examined: asthma attacks, infections, growth delay, a cumulative health-problems index, and maternal perception of the child's health. The association between duration of poverty and child health was explored with logistic regression modeling controlling for child and mother characteristics, including the mother's level of education, social support, and physical violence.
In this birth cohort, 13.7% (268) 3-year-old children from the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development experienced intermittent poverty since birth (1-2 episodes), and another 14.4% (280) experienced chronic poverty (3-4 episodes). Children from families with chronic poverty had more frequent asthma attacks and had a higher cumulative health-problems index score, whereas children with intermittent poverty were more often perceived to be in less than very good health by their mothers. These associations remained statistically significant when controlling for child and mother characteristics. No association was observed between duration of poverty and infections or growth delay.
Chronic poverty affects a large number of children and has negative consequences for preschool children's health, although universal health care is available. The effects of chronic poverty may vary according to different health indicators and the age of the child.
STUDY OBJECTIVE: To study trends in the health and socioeconomic circumstances of lone mothers in Sweden over the years 1979-1995, and to make comparisons with couple mothers over the same period. DESIGN: Analysis of data from the annual Survey of Living Conditions (ULF), conducted by Statistics Sweden from 1979-1995. Comparison of demographic, socioeconomic and health status of lone and couple mothers and how these have varied over the 17 years of the study. Main outcome measures include prevalence of self perceived general health and limiting longstanding illness. PARTICIPANTS AND SETTING: All lone mothers (n = 2776) and couple mothers (n = 16,935) aged 16 to 64 years in a random sample of the Swedish population in a series of cross sectional surveys carried out each year between 1979 and 1995. MAIN RESULTS: The socioeconomic conditions of lone mothers deteriorated during the period 1979-1995, with increasing unemployment and poverty rates. Lone mothers had worse health status than couple mothers throughout the period. In comparison with the first two periods, the prevalence of less than good health increased among both lone and couple mothers from the late 1980s onwards. For lone and couple mothers who were poor, their rates of less than good health were similar in the early 1980s, but in 1992-95 poor lone mothers were significantly more likely to report less than good health than poor couple mothers. Unemployed lone mothers had particularly high rates of ill health throughout the study period. CONCLUSIONS: As in other European countries, lone mothers are emerging as a vulnerable group in society in Sweden, especially in the economic climate of the 1990's. While they had very low rates of poverty and high employment rates in the 1980s, their situation has deteriorated with the economic recession of the 1990's. The health status of lone mothers, particularly those who are unemployed or poor, appears worse than that of couple mothers and in some circumstances may be deteriorating. Further study is needed to elucidate the mechanisms mediating their health disadvantage compared with couple mothers.
Comment In: J Epidemiol Community Health. 1999 Dec;53(12):74910656082