Marital Status, Parental Status and Allostatic Load

Janet Weeks, Florida State University
Isaac W. Eberstein, Florida State University

Extensive research has examined the effect of social disadvantage on chronic stress by socio-economic status, gender, and race/ethnicity, as well as the negative health implications of that stress. However, research has yet to examine other avenues of stress generation, such as marital status or parental status. Using survey and laboratory data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2003-2006, I address this gap in the literature by examining the relationships of marital status and parental status with allostatic load and how these linkages vary by age, SES, and race/ethnicity. Findings using negative binomial regressions indicate that for women in their later childbearing years, being single and without children is associated with greater allostatic load. There is also significant variation by SES and race/ethnicity for women over age 35, such that only whites and higher SES groups experience the health benefits of marriage and children during their later childbearing years.

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Presented in Session 66: Contributions of Biodemography to Understanding Health, Aging and Mortality