Volume 41 - Article 8 | Pages 197–230

The health of biracial children in two-parent families in the United States

By Kate Choi, Nancy Reichman

Print this page  Facebook  Twitter


Date received:08 Nov 2018
Date published:17 Jul 2019
Word count:7850
Keywords:children, health disparities, interracial unions, multiracial, racial inequality


Background: Over the past few decades, the United States has experienced a dramatic rise in the number of multiracial individuals. The health of this population is vastly understudied because most population-based health surveys do not adequately identify multiracial individuals.

Objective: We compare the health of black/white biracial children with that of single-race white and black children and assess the extent to which differences in characteristics of parents who select into the distinct unions and children's socioeconomic backgrounds explain the observed differences.

Methods: Using information about the race of coresident mothers and fathers, we classify children into four racial groups – single-race whites (WW), biracial children with white mothers and black fathers (WB), biracial children with black mothers and white fathers (BW), and single-race blacks (BB). We estimate logistic regression models to document variations in rates of poor overall health and disability by children’s racial background.

Results: WW children are less likely than BB children to have poor overall health, but more likely to be diagnosed with a disability. WB children are less likely than BB children, but more likely than WW children, to have poorer health. The disability rates of WB children are similar to those of BB children. Selection and socioeconomic differences explain some of the differences in poor overall health, but suppress differences in disability, between WB and WW children.

Contribution: This study underscores the importance of considering both maternal and paternal race when studying racial disparities in child health.

Author's Affiliation

Kate Choi - University of Western Ontario, Canada [Email]
Nancy Reichman - Rutgers University, United States of America [Email]

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

» Differences in occupational homogamy by race, ethnicity, and national origin: A social mobility strategy for Asian Americans
Volume 48 - Article 18

» Stability and outcome of interracial cohabitation before and after transitions to marriage
Volume 46 - Article 33

» Understanding patterns of contraceptive use among never married Mexican American women
Volume 34 - Article 40

» Fertility in the context of Mexican migration to the United States: A case for incorporating the pre-migration fertility of immigrants
Volume 30 - Article 24

Most recent similar articles in Demographic Research

» Does race response shift impact racial inequality?
Volume 47 - Article 30    | Keywords: racial inequality

» Household structure across childhood in four lower- and middle-income countries
Volume 47 - Article 6    | Keywords: children

» Increases in shared custody after divorce in the United States
Volume 46 - Article 38    | Keywords: children

» Stability and outcome of interracial cohabitation before and after transitions to marriage
Volume 46 - Article 33    | Keywords: interracial unions

» Gendering health differences between nonmigrants and migrants by duration of stay in Italy
Volume 45 - Article 7    | Keywords: health disparities


»Volume 41





Similar Articles



Jump to Article

Volume Page
Volume Article ID