Featured Articles Summer 2010

Falling through the Cracks: Gaps and Barriers in the Mental Health System for America's Disadvantaged Children
Elizabeth H. Bringewatt and Elizabeth T. Gershoff
Children and Youth Services Review, In Press, Corrected Proof, Available online 4 May 2010
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Abstract: The system for providing mental health services to children is fragmented and complex, and children and their families face multiple barriers to accessing care. This is especially true for children in low-income families, who have the greatest rate of mental health disorders but have the highest underutilization of services. The first section of this paper describes the unmet need for children's mental health services, including reasons for the disproportionate need among low-income children. The second section provides a brief overview of the history of children's mental health policies. The third section outlines the types of services available to children, highlighting the problems with this service delivery system. This is followed by a discussion of barriers that families face in accessing care. The paper concludes with recommendations for improving this fragmented system of service delivery.

Academic Achievement and Course Taking Among Language Minority Youth in U.S. Schools: Effects of ESL Placement
Rebecca Callahan, Lindsey Wilkinson and Chandra Muller
Education Evaluation and Policy Analysis 32(1):84-117
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Abstract: English as a second language (ESL) is meant to provide a meaningful education for students learning English (ELLs); however, its effects remain largely unexplored. Using longitudinal, nationally representative data from the Educational Longitudinal Study, the authors estimate the effects of ESL placement on language minority (LM) adolescents' college preparation and academic achievement. Findings indicate that LM students who most closely fit the EL profile (recent immigrant, relatively low English proficiency) experience positive math outcomes and null effects in other academic areas; however, LM students who fit this profile less well experience negative effects. Results suggest that although ESL placement may benefit students most in need and for a limited time after arrival, considerable caution is advised in students' placement and retention in ESL.

Education Inequality in Mortality: The Age and Gender Specific Mediating Effects of Cigarette Smoking
Justin T. Denney, Richard G. Rogers, Robert A. Hummer and Fred C. Pampel
Social Science Research 39:662-673, 2010
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Abstract: A debate within the mortality literature centers around the impact of health behaviors on the prospects of disadvantaged groups. Meanwhile, a growing body of work illustrates the social processes that shape changes in smoking levels by socioeconomic status (SES), especially educational attainment. These literatures are merged by examining the mediating effects of cigarette smoking on education gaps in U.S. adult mortality by age and gender. Findings reveal that cigarette smoking is an important mediator of the education-mortality gap for all males and for younger females. In particular, education-mortality gaps for young men narrow considerably when cigarette smoking is accounted for, while older women experienced no reduction in the education-mortality gap with controls for smoking. These results are consistent with diffusion arguments that describe SES differences in smoking adoption by age and gender and provide strong evidence that smoking is an important differentiator of mortality risks by education.

Parent Discipline Practices in an International Sample: Associations With Child Behaviors and Moderation by Perceived Normativeness
Elizabeth T. Gershoff, Andrew Grogan-Kaylor, Jennifer E. Lansford, Lei Chang, Arnaldo Zelli, Kirby Deater-Deckard, Kenneth A. Dodge
Child Development 81(2):487-502, 2010
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Abstract: This study examined the associations of 11 discipline techniques with children's aggressive and anxious behaviors in an international sample of mothers and children from 6 countries and determined whether any significant associations were moderated by mothers' and children's perceived normativeness of the techniques. Participants included 292 mothers and their 8- to 12-year-old children living in China, India, Italy, Kenya, Philippines, and Thailand. Parallel multilevel and fixed effects models revealed that mothers' use of corporal punishment, expressing disappointment, and yelling were significantly related to more child aggression symptoms, whereas giving a time-out, using corporal punishment, expressing disappointment, and shaming were significantly related to greater child anxiety symptoms. Some moderation of these associations was found for children's perceptions of normativeness.

Mapping the Timing, Pace, and Scale of the Fertility Transition in Brazil
Joseph E. Potter, Carl P. Schmertmann, Renato Assunção, and Suzana M. Cavenaghi
Population and Development Review 36(2):283-307, 2010
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Abstract: Between 1960 and 2000, fertility fell sharply in Brazil, but this transition was unevenly distributed in space and time. Using Bayesian spatial statistical methods and microdata from five censuses, we develop and apply a procedure for fitting logistic curves to the fertility transitions in more than 500 small regions of Brazil over this 40-year period. Doing so enables us to map the main features of the Brazilian fertility transition in considerable detail. We detect early declines in some regions of the country and document large differences between early and late transitions in regard to both the initial level of fertility and the speed of the transition. We also use our results to test hypotheses regarding changes in the level of development at the onset of the fertility transition and identify a temporary stall in the Brazilian transition that occurred in the late 1990s. A web site with project details is at http://schmert.net/BayesLogistic.

Clinic versus Over-the-Counter Access to Oral Contraception: Choices Women Make along the US-Mexico Border
Joseph E. Potter, Kari White, Kristine Hopkins, Jon Amastae and Daniel Grossman
American Journal of Public Health 100(6):1130-1136, 2010
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Abstract: Objectives. As part of the Border Contraceptive Access Study, we interviewed oral contraceptive (OC) users living in El Paso, Texas, to assess motivations for patronizing a US clinic or a Mexican pharmacy with over-the-counter (OTC) pills and to determine which women were likely to use the OTC option. Methods. We surveyed 532 clinic users and 514 pharmacy users about background characteristics, motivations for choosing their OC source, and satisfaction with this source. Results. Older women and women born and educated in Mexico were more likely to patronize pharmacies. Cost of pills was the main motivation for choosing their source for 40% of pharmacy users and 23% of clinic users. The main advantage cited by 49% of clinic users was availability of other health services. Bypassing the requirement to obtain a doctor's prescription was most important for 27% of pharmacy users. Both groups were very satisfied with their pill source. Conclusions. Women of different ages, parities, and educational levels would likely take advantage of an OTC option were OCs available at low cost. Improving clinic provision of OCs should be considered.

Just the Two of Us? How Parents Influence Adult Children's Marital Quality
Corinne Reczek,  Hui Liu, and Debra Umberson
Journal of Marriage and Family 72:1205-1219, 2010
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Abstract: We work from a life-course perspective to explore how relationships with parents affect adult children's marital quality. We further ask whether the effects of parents on adult children's marital quality depend on the adult child's gender, age, marital duration, and childhood family experiences. Growth-curve analysis of national, longitudinal data (Americans' Changing Lives) indicated that relationships with fathers (n = 336) and mothers (n = 520) differentially affected the marital quality of adult children over time. Findings suggest that the effects of the parent - adult child relationship on adult children's marriages depend on age, marital duration, and levels of family stress experienced in childhood.

Knox Meets Cox: Adapting Epidemiological Space-Time Statistics to Demographic Studies

Carl. P. Schmertmann, Renato M. Assunção, and Joseph E. Potter
Demography 47(3):629-650, 2010
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Abstract: Many important questions and theories in demography focus on changes over time, and on how those changes differ over geographic and social space. Space-time analysis has always been important in studying fertility transitions, for example. However, demographers have seldom used formal statistical methods to describe and analyze time series of maps. One formal method, used widely in epidemiology, criminology, and public health, is Knox's space-time interaction test. In this article, we discuss the potential of the Knox test in demographic research and note some possible pitfalls. We demonstrate how to use familiar proportional hazards models to adapt the Knox test for demographic applications. These adaptations allow for nonrepeatable events and for the incorporation of structural variables that change in space and time. We apply the modifi ed test to data on the onset of fertility decline in Brazil over 1960 2000 and show how the modifi ed method can produce maps indicating where and when diffusion effects seem strongest, net of covariate effects.

Marital Status, Marital Transitions, and Body Weight
Debra Umberson, Hui Liu and Daniel Powers
Journal of Health and Social Behavior 50:327-343, 2009
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Abstract: We consider how marital status and marital transitions, important features of the social environment, influence weight change over time, and how these effects vary by age, race, and gender. Growth curve analysis of a four-wave national survey suggests that marital transitions are more important than marital status in predicting change in body weight, and that marital dissolution is more important than marital formation in affecting weight. Widowhood effects on weight loss are a particular concern for population health trends, especially among African Americans.

Parenthood, Childlessness, and Well-Being: A Life Course Perspective
Debra Umberson, Tetyana Pudrovska, and Corinne Reczek
Journal of Marriage and Family 72:612-629, 2010
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Abstract: This article reviews recent research (1999 - 2009) on the effects of parenthood on wellbeing. We use a life course framework to consider how parenting and childlessness influence well-being throughout the adult life course. We place particular emphasis on social contexts and how the impact of parenthood on well-being depends on marital status, gender, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. We also consider how recent demographic shifts lead to new family arrangements that have implications for parenthood and well-being. These include stepparenting, parenting of grandchildren, and childlessness across the life course.

Three-dimensional Surface Imaging System for Assessing Human Obesity
Bugao Xu, Wurong Yu, Ming Yao, M. Reese Pepper, and Jeanne H. Freeland-Graves
Optical Engineering 48(10), 107204, 2009
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Abstract: The increasing prevalence of obesity suggests a need to develop a convenient, reliable, and economical tool for assessment of this condition. Three-dimensional _3-D_ body surface imaging has emerged as an exciting technology for the estimation of body composition. We present a new 3-D body imaging system, which is designed for enhanced portability, affordability, and functionality. In this system, stereo vision technology is used to satisfy the requirement for a simple hardware setup and fast image acquisition. The portability of the system is created via a two-stand configuration, and the accuracy of body volume measurements is improved by customizing stereo matching and surface reconstruction algorithms that target specific problems in 3-D body imaging. Body measurement functions dedicated to body composition assessment also are developed. The overall performance of the system is evaluated in human subjects by comparison to other conventional anthropometric methods, as well as air displacement plethysmography, for body fat assessment.