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Featured Articles Fall 2014

social science and medicineWhat Can Genes Tell Us about the Relationship between Education and Health?
Jason D. Boarman, Benjamin W. Domingue, and Jonathan Daw
Social Science and Medicine, DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2014.08.001, 2014
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Abstract:  We use genome wide data from respondents of the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) to evaluate the possibility that common genetic influences are associated with education and three health outcomes: depression, self-rated health, and body mass index. We use a total of 1.7 million single nucleotide polymorphisms obtained from the Illumina HumanOmni2.5-4v1 chip from 4233 non-Hispanic white respondents to characterize genetic similarities among unrelated persons in the HRS. We then used the Genome Wide Complex Trait Analysis (GCTA) toolkit, to estimate univariate and bivariate heritability. We provide evidence that education (h2 = 0.33), BMI (h2 = 0.43), depression (h2 = 0.19), and self-rated health (h2 = 0.18) are all moderately heritable phenotypes. We also provide evidence that some of the correlation between depression and education as well as self-rated health and education is due to common genetic factors associated with one or both traits. We find no evidence that the correlation between education and BMI is influenced by common genetic factors.

journal of nutritionArm Span and Ulnar Length Are Reliable and Accurate Estimates of Recumbent Length and Height in a Multiethnic Population of Infants and Children under 6 Years of Age
Michele R. Forman, Yeyi Zhu, Ladia M. Hernandez, John H. Himes, Yongquan Dong, Robert K. Danish, Kyla E. James, Laura E. Caulfield, Jean M. Kerver, Lenore Arab, Paula Voss, Daniel E. Hale, Nadim Kanafani, and Steven Hirchfeld
The Journal of Nutrition, DOI:10.3945/jn.114.194340, 2014
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Abstract:  Surrogate measures are needed when recumbent length or height is unobtainable or unreliable. Arm span has been used as a surrogate but is not feasible in children with shoulder or arm contractures. Ulnar length is not usually impaired by joint deformities, yet its utility as a surrogate has not been adequately studied. In this cross-sectional study, we aimed to examine the accuracy and reliability of ulnar length measured by different tools as a surrogate measure of recumbent length and height. Anthropometrics [recumbent length, height, arm span, and ulnar length by caliper (ULC), ruler (ULR), and grid (ULG)] were measured in 1479 healthy infants and children aged <6 y across 8 study centers in the United States. Multivariate mixed-effects linear regression models for recumbent length and height were developed by using ulnar length and arm span as surrogate measures. The agreement between the measured length or height and the predicted values by ULC, ULR, ULG, and arm span were examined by Bland-Altman plots. All 3 measures of ulnar length and arm span were highly correlated with length and height. The degree of precision of prediction equations for length by ULC, ULR, and ULG (R2 = 0.95, 0.95, and 0.92, respectively) was comparable with that by arm span (R2 = 0.97) using age, sex, and ethnicity as covariates; however, height prediction by ULC (R2 = 0.87), ULR (R2 = 0.85), and ULG (R2 = 0.88) was less comparable with arm span (R2 = 0.94). Our study demonstrates that arm span and ULC, ULR, or ULG can serve as accurate and reliable surrogate measures of recumbent length and height in healthy children; however, ULC, ULR, and ULG tend to slightly overestimate length and height in young infants and children. Further testing of ulnar length as a surrogate is warranted in physically impaired or nonambulatory children.

journal of youth and adolescenceParent-Child Acculturation Profiles as Predictors of Chinese American Adolescents’ Academic Trajectories
Su Yeong Kim, Yijie Wang, Qi Chen, Yishan Shen, Yang Hou
Journal of Youth and Adolescence, DOI 10.1007/s10964-014-0131-x, 2014
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Abstract:  Acculturation plays a critical role in the adjustment of Asian Americans, as a large proportion of them are immigrants in the US. However, little is known about how acculturation influences Asian American adolescents' academic trajectories over time. Using a longitudinal sample of 444 Chinese American families (54 % female children), the current study explored the effect of mothers', fathers', and adolescents' individual acculturation profiles and parent-child acculturation dissonance on adolescents' academic trajectories from 8th to 12th grade. Academic performance was measured by grade point average (GPA), and by standardized test scores in English language arts (ELA) and Math every year. Latent growth modeling analyses showed that adolescents with a Chinese-oriented father showed faster decline in GPA, and Chinese-oriented adolescents had lower initial ELA scores. Adolescents whose parents had American-oriented acculturation profiles tended to have lower initial Math scores. These results suggest that Chinese and American profiles may be disadvantageous for certain aspects of academic performance, and bicultural adolescents and/or adolescents with bicultural parents are best positioned to achieve across multiple domains. In terms of the role of parent-child acculturation dissonance on academic trajectories, the current study highlighted the importance of distinguishing among different types of dissonance. Adolescents who were more Chinese-oriented than their parents tended to have the lowest initial ELA scores, and adolescents experiencing more normative acculturation dissonance (i.e., who were more American-oriented than their parents) had the highest initial ELA scores. No effects of parent-child acculturation dissonance were observed for GPAs or standardized Math scores. Altogether, the current findings add nuances to the current understanding of acculturation and adolescent adjustment.

journal of family psychologyDiscrepancy in Reports of Support Exchanges Between Parents and Offspring: Within- and Between-Family Differences
Kyungmin Kim, Kira S. Birditt, Steven H. Zarit, and Karen L. Fingerman
Journal of Family Psychology, 28(2):168-179, 2014
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Abstract:  Using data from 929 parent–child dyads nested in 458 three-generation families (aged 76 for the oldest generation, 50 for the middle generation, and 24 for the youngest generation), this study investigated how discrepancies in reports of support that parents and their adult offspring exchanged with one another vary both within and between families, and what factors explain variations in dyadic discrepancies. We found substantial within- and between-family differences in dyadic discrepancies in reports of support exchanges. For downward exchanges (from parents to offspring), both dyad-specific characteristics within a family (e.g., gender composition, relative levels of relationship quality, and family obligation) and shared family characteristics (e.g., average levels of relationship quality) showed significant effects on dyadic discrepancies. For upward exchanges (from offspring to parents), however, only dyad-specific characteristics (e.g., gender composition, coresidence, relative levels of positive relationship quality, and family obligation) were significantly associated with discrepancies. Discrepancies in support exchanges were mainly associated with dyad-specific characteristics, but they also appeared to be influenced by family emotional environments. The use of multiple informants revealed that families differ in discrepancies in reports of exchanges, which has implications for quality of family life as well as future exchanges. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)

developmental psychologyInfluence of Conduct Problems and Depressive Symptomatology on Adolescent Substance Use: Developmentally Proximal Versus Distal Effects
Julie Maslowsky, John E. Schulenberg, and Robert A. Zucker
Developmental Psychology, 50(4):1179-1189, 2014
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Abstract:  The identification of developmentally specific windows at which key predictors of adolescent substance use are most influential is a crucial task for informing the design of appropriately targeted substance use prevention and intervention programs. The current study examined effects of conduct problems and depressive symptomatology on changes in alcohol, cigarette, and marijuana from 8th through 12th grade. We examined the effects of relatively developmentally distal versus proximal mental health problems on adolescent substance use and tested for gender differences. With a national, longitudinal sample from the Monitoring the Future study (N = 3,014), structural equation modeling was used to test the effects of 8th and 10th grade conduct problems and depressive symptomatology on subsequent changes in alcohol, cigarette, and marijuana use from 8th through 12th grade. Results indicated that relatively distal (8th grade) mental health problems were stronger predictors of increases in alcohol, cigarette, and marijuana use than were relatively more proximal (10th grade) mental health problems. Eighth grade conduct problems had the strongest effects on alcohol and marijuana use, and 8th grade depressive symptomatology had the strongest effects on cigarette use. Few gender differences were observed. These results suggest that intervening in earlier appearing conduct problems and depressive symptomatology may lead to a reduction in adolescent substance use in 10th and 12th grades and beyond.

demographyOpportunities to Meet: Occupational Education and Marriage Formation in Young Adulthood
David McClendon, Janet Chen-Lan Kuo, and Kelly Raley
Demography, 51(4):1319-1344, 2014
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Abstract:  Explanations for the positive association between education and marriage in the United States emphasize the economic and cultural attractiveness of having a college degree in the marriage market. However, educational attainment may also shape the opportunities that men and women have to meet other college-educated partners, particularly in contexts with significant educational stratification. We focus on work—and the social ties that it supports—and consider whether the educational composition of occupations is important for marriage formation during young adulthood. Employing discrete-time event-history methods using the NLSY-97, we find that occupational education is positively associated with transitioning to first marriage and with marrying a college-educated partner for women but not for men. Moreover, occupational education is positively associated with marriage over cohabitation as a first union for women. Our findings call attention to an unexplored, indirect link between education and marriage that, we argue, offers insight into why college-educated women in the United States enjoy better marriage prospects.

contraceptionUnmet Demand for Highly Effective Postpartum Contraception in Texas
Joseph E. Potter, Kristine Hopkins, Abigail R.A. Aiken, Celia Hubert, Amanda J. Stevenson, Kari White and Daniel Grossman
Contraception, 2014
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Abstract:  Objectives: We aimed to assess women's contraceptive preferences and use in the first 6 months after delivery. The postpartum period represents a key opportunity for women to learn about and obtain effective contraception, especially since 50% of unintended pregnancies to parous women occur within 2 years of a previous birth. Methods. We conducted a prospective cohort study of 800 postpartum women recruited from three hospitals in Austin and El Paso, TX. Women aged 18–44 who wanted to delay childbearing for at least 24 months were eligible for the study and completed interviews following delivery and at 3 and 6 months postpartum. Participants were asked about the contraceptive method they were currently using and the method they would prefer to use at 6 months after delivery. Results: At 6 months postpartum, 13% of women were using an intrauterine device or implant, and 17% were sterilized or had a partner who had had a vasectomy. Twenty-four percent were using hormonal methods, and 45% relied on less effective methods, mainly condoms and withdrawal. Yet 44% reported that they would prefer to be using sterilization, and 34% would prefer to be using long-acting reversible contraception (LARC).
Conclusions: This study shows a considerable preference for LARC and permanent methods at 6 months postpartum. However, there is a marked discordance between women’s method preference and actual use, indicating substantial unmet demand for highly effective methods of contraception. Implications: In two Texas cities, many more women preferred long-acting and permanent contraceptive methods (LAPM) than were able to access these methods at 6 months postpartum. Women’s contraceptive needs could be better met by counseling about all methods, by reducing cost barriers and by making LAPM available at more sites.

journal of women politics and policySources of Retirement Security for Black, Non-Hispanic White, and Mexican-origin Women: The Changing Roles of Marriage and Work
Jacqueline L. Angel, Kate C. Prickett, and Ronald L. Angel
Journal of Women, Politics, and Policy, 35:222-241, 2014
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Abstract:  Changing family patterns and high rates of marital instability mean that women are increasingly responsible for their own retirement security. In this study we compare private retirement coverage among pre-retirement age people using multiple years of the Current Population Survey. We find that women are less likely than men to participate in employer-sponsored retirement plans. Married women are at highest risk of lacking coverage. Minority group status compounds this disadvantage, with Mexican-origin women far less likely than any other group to have coverage. These gender, race, and Mexican-origin disadvantages in retirement coverage have implications for the economic security of women.

review of religious researchVolunteering and the Dimensions of Religiosity: A Cross-National Analysis
Pamela Paxton, Nicholas E. Reith, and Jennifer L. Glanville
Review of Religious Research, DOI 10.1007/s13644-014-0169-y, 2014
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Abstract:  Religion and volunteerism are closely linked, but which aspects of religiosity matter most for volunteering? This article predicts volunteering with a multi-dimensional model of private and public religiosity using a sample of 9,464 respondents from 15 Western European countries. An interaction between private and public religiosity is also theorized and tested. Three dimensions of private religiosity (religious salience, prayer, and belief) are significant in predicting volunteering, and each has a significant interaction effect with public religiosity, measured by religious attendance. The influence of public and private religiosity on volunteering, and their interaction, differ by religious affiliation.

geoforumVariable Adaptations: Micro-Politics of Environmental Displacement in the Okavango Delta, Botswana
Jamie E. Shinn, Brian King, Kenneth R. Young, and Kelley A. Crews
Geoforum, 57:21-29, 2014
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Abstract:  Increasing environmental variability associated with global climate change is expected to produce social instability and human displacement in future decades. As such, there remains a pressing need to understand the implications of environmental changes for human populations and their adaptive capacities. This paper analyzes governmental and intra-community responses to environmental variability through a case study from the Okavango Delta, Botswana. We report findings from fieldwork conducted during May–June 2011 and October 2012–May 2013 in the village of Etsha 13. Following an increase in annual flooding in 2009, 2010, and 2011, the Government of Botswana permanently relocated hundreds of residents to a nearby dryland area, asserting that this new settlement was necessary to reduce future risks from flooding variability. While some residents accepted this position, others elected to return to the floodplain or to illegally divert the flow of the water to protect their homes. This paper explores the micro-politics of these relocation efforts and competing responses in order to examine differential adaptive responses to increased flooding levels. We situate these findings within the burgeoning literature on transformative adaptation and suggest that micro-political dynamics are critical in shaping the limitations to, and possibilities for, effective adaptive responses to global environmental change.

social problemsFamily Socioeconomic Status, Peers, and the Path to College
Robert Crosnoe and Chandra Muller
Social Problems, 61(4):1-23, 2014
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Abstract:  Drawing on the primary/secondary effects perspective, this mixed methods study investigated connections between high school students’ trajectories through college preparatory coursework and their relationships with parents and peers as a channel in the intergenerational transmission of socioeconomic inequality. Growth curve and multilevel analyses of national survey and transcript data revealed that having college-educated parents differentiated students’ enrollment in advanced coursework at the start of high school and that this initial disparity was stably maintained over subsequent years. During this starting period of high school, exposure to school-based peer groups characterized by higher levels of parent education appeared to amplify these coursework disparities between students with and without college-educated parents. Ethnographic data from a single high school pointed to possible mechanisms for these patterns, including the tendency for students with college-educated parents to have more information about the relative weight of grades, core courses, and electives in college-going and for academically-relevant information from school peers with college-educated parents to matter most to students’ coursework when it matched what was coming from their own parents.

journal of family issuesIs It All About Money?: Work Characteristics and Women’s and Men’s Marriage Formation in Early Adulthood
Janet Kuo and R. Kelly Raley.
Journal of Family Issues, Published online before print April 21, 2014, doi: 10.1177/0192513X14530973.
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Abstract:  Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 97, this article investigates how work characteristics (earnings and autonomy) shape young adults’ transition to first marriage separately for men and women. The results suggest that earnings are positively associated with marriage and that this association is as strong for women as men in their mid to late 20s. Additionally, occupational autonomy—having the control over one’s own work structure—facilitates entry into first marriage for women in their mid to late 20s but, for men, occupational autonomy is not associated with marriage at these ages. These results suggest that even as women’s earnings are increasingly important for marriage, other aspects of work are also important for stable family formation.

social indicators researchUsers Beware: Variable Effects of Parenthood on Happiness Within and Across International Datasets
Matthew A. Andersson, Jennifer Glass, and Robin W Simon
Social Indicators Research, 115(3):945-961, 2014
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Abstract:  Researchers have begun assessing differences in well-being among parents versus non-parents using a cross-national comparative approach. Given the availability of multiple major datasets, a systematic methodological study isolating the effects of data choice would be helpful. To accomplish this objective, we draw upon two major datasets (European Social Survey and International Social Survey Programme) and we devise and implement a uniquely controlled method on five fronts by holding time, outcome measurement, parenthood operationalization, geographic sampling, and set of covariates constant. Our design features four distinct observations for each of 11 European countries (two from the 2006 and 2008 ESS, two from the 2007 and 2008 ISSP; 44 cross sections, N = 57,539). Employing both fixed- and random-effects approaches, we demonstrate that choice of major dataset (ISSP or ESS) and choice between contemporaneous cross-sections both contribute strikingly to the estimates of parenthood on happiness. In fact, effect variances at the cross-sectional, dataset and country levels are all significant and are not statistically different. We conclude by discussing several limitations of our analyses and implications for parenthood researchers.

social science researchResidential Hierarchy in Los Angeles: An Examination of Ethnic and Documentation Status Differences
David Cort, Ken-Hou Lin, and Gabriela Stevenson
Social Science Research, 45:170-183, 2014
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Abstract:  Longitudinal event history data from two waves of the Los Angeles Family and Neighborhood Survey are used to explore racial, ethnic, and documentation status differences in access to desirable neighborhoods. We first find that contrary to recent findings, undocumented Latinos do not replace blacks at the bottom of the locational attainment hierarchy. Whites continue to end up in neighborhoods that are less poor and whiter than minority groups, while all minorities, including undocumented Latinos, end up in neighborhoods that are of similar quality. Second, the effects of socioeconomic status for undocumented Latinos are either similar to or weaker than disadvantaged blacks. These findings suggest that living in less desirable neighborhoods is a fate disproportionately borne by non-white Los Angeles residents and that in some limited ways, the penalty attached to being undocumented Latino might actually be greater than the penalty attached to being black.

american journal of educationBehavioral Engagement in Learning and Math Achievement over Kindergarten: A Contextual Analysis
Keith Robinson and Anna S. Mueller
American Journal of Education, 2014.
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Abstract:  Using nationally representative data on 12,462 kindergarten children, this report examines the link between behavioral engagement and math achievement growth during kindergarten. Multilevel models show that students with higher individual engagement tend to experience larger math achievement growth over kindergarten, that classroom engagement makes a difference in how much achievement growth students experience over kindergarten, and that students with higher individual engagement benefit more from being in highly-engaged classrooms than children with lower individual engagement. Students with higher math test scores at kindergarten entry also benefit more from highly-engaged classrooms than children with lower prior math scores. Results from this study provide new evidence that behavioral engagement affects students’ achievement growth on multiple levels, with the individual, the classroom environment, and the interaction of the individual and classroom environment all relating to math outcomes. Evidence reported from this study is central to reducing educational inequalities.

annual review of sociologyRace, Ethnicity, and the Changing Context of Childbearing in the U.S.
Megan Sweeney and R. Kelly Raley
Annual Review of Sociology, 40(1):539-58, 2014,
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Abstract:  In what ways do childbearing patterns in the contemporary United States vary for white, black, and Hispanic women? Why do these differences exist? Although completed family size is currently similar for white and black women, and only modestly larger for Hispanic women, we highlight persistent differences across groups with respect to the timing of childbearing, the relationship context of childbearing, and the extent to which births are intended. We next evaluate key explanations for these differences. Guided by a proximate determinants approach, we focus here on patterns of sexual activity, contraceptive use, and postconception outcomes such as abortion and changes in mothers' relationship status. We find contraceptive use to be a particularly important contributor to racial and ethnic differences in childbearing, yet reasons for varying contraception use itself remain insufficiently understood. We end by reflecting on promising directions for further research.

journal of health and social behaviorRace, Gender, and Chains of Disadvantage: Childhood Adversity, Social Relationships, and Health
Debra Umberson, Kristi Williams, Patricia Thomas, Hui Liu, and Mieke B. Thomeer
Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 55:20-38, 2014
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Abstract:  We use a life course approach to guide an investigation of relationships and health at the nexus of race and gender. We consider childhood as a sensitive period in the life course, during which significant adversity may launch chains of disadvantage in relationships throughout the life course that then have cumulative effects on health over time. Data from a nationally representative panel study (Americans’ Changing Lives, N = 3,477) reveal substantial disparities between black and white adults, especially pronounced among men, in the quality of close relationships and in the consequences of these relationships for health. Greater childhood adversity helps to explain why black men have worse health than white men, and some of this effect appears to operate through childhood adversity’s enduring influence on relationship strain in adulthood. Stress that occurs in adulthood plays a greater role than childhood adversity in explaining racial disparities in health among women.
journal of gerontology bWidowhood and Depression: New Light on Gender Differences, Selection, and Psychological Adjustment
Isaac Sasson and Debra Umberson
The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 69(1):135-145, 2014
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Abstract:  Objectives: To document short- and long-term trajectories of depressive symptoms following widowhood and to test whether these trajectories vary by gender and anticipatory spousal loss. Method: Eight waves of prospective panel data from the Health and Retirement Study, over a 14-year period, are used to evaluate gender differences in depressive symptoms following widowhood in late midlife. Short-term trajectories are modeled using a linear regression of change in Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression (CES-D) score on duration of widowhood. Long-term trajectories are modeled using a mixed-effects hierarchical linear model of CES-D scores over time. Results: We find no gender differences in bereavement effects on depressive symptoms in either short or long term, net of widowhood duration. When spousal death is anticipated, both men and women return to their prewidowhood levels of depressive symptoms within 24 months of becoming widowed. Across marital groups, the continuously married are better off compared with the widowed even prior to spousal loss, whereas early, long-term widowhood is associated with worse outcomes compared with late widowhood. Discussion: Although men and women do not differ in trajectories of depressive symptoms following widowhood, given similar circumstances, women are distinctly disadvantaged in that they are more likely to become widowed and under less favorable conditions.

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