Volume 22 - Article 27 | Pages 863-890

Single motherhood and low birthweight in Spain: Narrowing social inequalities in health?

By Teresa Castro-Martín

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Date received:27 Jul 2009
Date published:07 May 2010
Word count:4951
Keywords:childbearing, cohabitation, low birthweight, nonmarital fertility, out-of-wedlock, perinatal health, Spain, unmarried mothers
DOI:10.4054/DemRes.2010.22.27
 

Abstract

Nonmarital childbearing is becoming an increasingly common path to family formation in Spain. The proportion of births to unmarried mothers has increased from 2% in 1975 to 30.2% in 2007. Along with this marked increase, there has been an important shift in the sociodemographic profile of unmarried mothers. This study focuses on the impact of mothers’ marital status on the health status of their newborns, using low birthweight as an indicator. We are interested in examining how the impact of mothers’ unmarried status on birth outcomes changes as nonmarital childbearing shifts from a marginal to a relatively common behaviour. The results of the analysis reveal that the health disadvantage gap between marital and nonmarital births has narrowed significantly over the past decade in Spain. We argue that diminishing selection processes and increasing social acceptance could explain the declining significance of marital status as a risk factor for low birthweight.

Author's Affiliation

Teresa Castro-Martín - Spanish National Research Council, Spain [Email]

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» Women’s changing socioeconomic position and union formation in Spain and Portugal
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» Not truly partnerless: Non-residential partnerships and retreat from marriage in Spain
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