Featured Articles Spring 2010

Maternal Education, Early Child Care, and the Reproduction of Advantage
Jennifer Augustine, Shannon E. Cavanagh, and Robert L. Crosnoe
Social Forces 88:1-30, 2009
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Abstract: The social and human capital that educational attainment provides women enables them to better navigate their children's passages through school. In this study, we examine a key mechanism in this intergenerational process: mothers' selection of early child care. Analyses of the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development revealed that maternal education was positively associated with configurations of child-care characteristics (i.e., type, quality, quantity) most closely linked to children's school readiness. This association was not solely a function of mother's income or employment status, persisted despite controls for many observable confounds (e.g., maternal cognitive and psychological skills, paternal characteristics), and, according to post-hoc indices, was fairly robust in terms of unobservable confounds.

Experiences of Discrimination Among Chinese American Adolescents and the Consequences for Socioemotional and Academic Development
Aprile D. Benner and Su Yeong Kim
Developmental Psychology 45:1682-1694, 2009
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Abstract: This longitudinal study examined the influences of discrimination on socioemotional adjustment and academic performance for a sample of 444 Chinese American adolescents. Using autoregressive and cross-lagged techniques, the authors found that discrimination in early adolescence predicted depressive symptoms, alienation, school engagement, and grades in middle adolescence but that early socioemotional adjustment and academic performance did not predict later experiences of discrimination. Further, their investigation of whether earlier or contemporaneous experiences of discrimination influenced developmental outcomes in middle adolescence indicated differential effects, with contemporaneous experiences of discrimination affecting socioemotional adjustment, whereas earlier discrimination was more influential for academic performance. Finally, they found a persistent negative effect of acculturation on the link between discrimination and adolescents' developmental outcomes, such that those adolescents who were more acculturated (in this case, higher in American orientation) experienced more deleterious effects of discrimination on both socioemotional and academic outcomes.

Intergenerational Experiences of Discrimination in Chinese American Families: Influences of Socialization and Stress
Aprile D. Benner and Su Yeong Kim
Journal of Marriage and Family 71:862-877, 2009
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Abstract: In this longitudinal study, we investigated the mechanisms by which Chinese American parents' experiences of discrimination influenced their adolescents' ethnicity-related stressors (i.e., cultural misfit, discrimination, attitudes toward education). We focused on whether parents' ethnic-racial socialization practices and perpetual foreigner stress moderated or mediated this relationship. Participants were 444 Chinese American families. Results indicated no evidence of moderation, but we observed support for mediation. Parental experiences of discrimination were associated with more ethnic-racial socialization practices and greater parental perpetual foreigner stress. More ethnic-racial socialization was related to greater cultural misfit in adolescents, whereas more perpetual foreigner stress was related to adolescents' poorer attitudes toward education and more reported discrimination. Relationships between mediators and outcomes were stronger for fathers than for mothers.

Estimation of Multi-state Life Table Functions and Their Variability from Complex Survey Data using the SPACE Program
Liming Cai, Mark D. Hayward, Yasuhiko Saito, James Lubitz, Aaron Hagedorn, and Eileen Crimmins
Demographic Research 22(6):129-158, 2010
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Abstract: The multistate life table (MSLT) model is an important demographic method to document life cycle processes. In this study, we present the SPACE (Stochastic Population Analysis for Complex Events) program to estimate MSLT functions and their sampling variability. It has several advantages over other programs, including the use of microsimulation and the bootstrap method to estimate the sampling variability. Simulation enables researchers to analyze a broader array of statistics than the deterministic approach, and may be especially advantageous in investigating distributions of MSLT functions. The bootstrap method takes sample design into account to correct the potential bias in variance estimates.

Family Socioeconomic Status and Consistent Environmental Stimulation in Early Childhood
Robert L. Crosnoe, Tama Leventhal, R.J. Wirth, Kim Pierce, Robert C. Pianta and the NICHD Early Child Care Network
Child Development 81:974-989, 2010
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Abstract: The transition into school occurs at the intersection of multiple environmental settings. This study applied growth curve modeling to a sample of 1,364 American children, followed from birth through age 6, who had been categorized by their exposure to cognitive stimulation at home and in preschool child care and 1st-grade classrooms. Of special interest was the unique and combined contribution to early learning of these 3 settings. Net of socioeconomic selection into different settings, children had higher math achievement when they were consistently stimulated in all 3, and they had higher reading achievement when consistently stimulated at home and in child care. The observed benefits of consistent environmental stimulation tended to be more pronounced for low-income children.

Low-Income Students and the Socioeconomic Composition of Public High Schools
Robert L. Crosnoe
American Sociological Review 74:709-730, 2009
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Abstract: Increasing constraints placed on race-based school diversification have shifted attention to socioeconomic desegregation. Although past research suggests that socioeconomic desegregation can produce heightened achievement, the "frog pond" perspective points to potential problems with socioeconomic desegregation in nonachievement domains. Such problems are important in their own right, and they may also chip away at the magnitude of potential achievement benefits. In this article, I report conducted propensity score analyses and robustness calculations on a sample of public high schools in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. As the proportion of the student body with middle- or high-income parents increased, low-income students progressed less far in math and science. Moreover, as the proportion of the student body with middle- or high-income or college-educated parents increased, low-income students experienced more psychosocial problems. Such patterns were often more pronounced among African American and Latino students. These findings suggest curricular and social psychological mechanisms of oft-noted frog pond effects in schools and extend the frog pond framework beyond achievement itself to demographic statuses (e.g., race/ethnicity and SES) perceptually linked to achievement. In terms of policy, these findings indicate that socioeconomic desegregation plans should also attend to equity in course enrollments and the social integration of students more generally.

Religion and Mental Health Among Older Adults: Do the Effects of Religious Involvement Vary by Gender?
Michael J. McFarland
The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 65B(5):621-630, 2010
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Abstract:  Objectives Few studies explore how the relationship between religious involvement and mental health varies by gender among the aging population. This article outlines a series of arguments concerning the effects of gender in moderating the effect of religious involvement on mental health and examines them empirically. Methods Using two waves (2001 and 2004) of the Religion, Aging, and Health Survey, this study estimates the differential effect of gender in the religion-mental health connection using multivariate analyses for a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults aged 66-95 years. Results Results suggest that (a) men obtain more mental health benefits from religious involvement than women, (b) women with higher levels of organizational religious involvement have similar levels of mental health as those with moderate and lower levels of organizational religious involvement, (c) men with very high levels of organizational religious involvement tend to have much higher levels of mental health than all other men. Discussion The relationship between organizational religious involvement and mental health is found to be mostly a nonlinear one such that those with the highest levels of religiosity receive all the benefits. The findings suggest a number of promising research directions on the religion-mental health connection among older Americans.

Sizing up Peers:  Adolescent Girls' Weight Control and Social Comparison in the School Context
Anna S. Mueller, Jennifer Pearson, Chandra Muller, Kenneth Frank, and Alyn Turner
Journal of Health and Social Behavior 51:64-78, 2010
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Abstract: Using the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health and multi-level modeling, we examine the role of social comparison with schoolmates in adolescent girls' weight control. Specifically, we focus on how girls' own weight control is influenced by the body sizes and weight-control behaviors of their schoolmates. Our findings suggest that comparisons with similar others (in this case, girls of a similar body size) appear to have the strongest association with individual girls' reports of trying to lose weight. For example, the odds that an overweight girl is engaged in weight control increase substantially when many overweight girls in her school are also trying to lose weight. This study highlights how schools play an important role in shaping girls' decisions to practice weight control and demonstrates how social comparison theory improves our understanding of how health behaviors are linked to social contexts.

Beyond the Epidemiological Paradox: The Health of Mexican American Children at Age 5
Yolanda C. Padilla, Robert A. Hummer and Erin R. Hamilton
Social Science Quarterly 90(5):1072-1088, 2009
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Abstract: Objective This study investigates how prenatal demographic, social, and behavioral characteristics of Mexican-origin immigrant mothers, which are linked to their relatively healthy birth outcomes, influence the subsequent health of their children in comparison to other racial and ethnic groups. Methods We use data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study on a cohort of 2,819 children born between 1998 and 2000 to analyze chronic health conditions at age five using logistic regression models. Results Multivariate analyses revealed no significant differences in chronic health conditions between children of Mexican immigrant mothers and non-Hispanic white children, controlling for socioeconomic status and access to healthcare. In contrast, children of U.S.-born Mexican-American mothers had significantly higher odds of chronic conditions compared to non-Hispanic white children. Social support and health-care use were related to child health outcomes but did not explain racial and ethnic differences. Conclusions Health policy must respond in order to help maintain the healthy outcomes of Mexican-American children of immigrants and reverse the deteriorating health of children in subsequent generations in light of considerable socioeconomic disadvantage and inadequate access to healthcare.

Social Relationships and Health Behavior Across the Life Course
Debra J. Umberson, Robert L. Crosnoe, and Corinne Reczek
Annual Review of Sociology 36:139-157, 2010
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Abstract: Sociological theory and research point to the importance of social relationships in affecting health behavior. This work tends to focus on specific stages of the life course, with a division between research on childhood/adolescent and adult populations. Yet recent advances demonstrate that early life course experiences shape health outcomes well into adulthood. We synthesize disparate bodies of research on social ties and health behavior throughout the life course, with attention to explaining how various social ties influence health behaviors at different life stages and how these processes accumulate and reverberate throughout the life course.