American Sociological Association

Race Differences in Linking Family Formation Transitions to Women’s Mortality

We examine how the timing and sequencing of first marriage and childbirth are related to mortality for a cohort of 4,988 white and black women born between 1922 and 1937 from the National Longitudinal Survey of Mature Women. We use Cox proportional hazard models to estimate race differences in the association between family formation transitions and mortality. Although we find no relationships between marital histories and longevity, we do find that having children, the timing of first birth, and the sequencing of childbirth and marriage are associated with mortality. White women who had children lived longer than those who had none, but the opposite was found for black women. The effects of birth timing also differed by race; delaying first birth to older ages was protective for white women but not black women. These results underscore the importance of social context in the study of life course transitions.


Adriana M. Reyes





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