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Research examines the influence of family and other personal relationships on mental and physical health, with a particular focus on gender and life course variations in these patterns. Recent projects include an examination of the influence of marital and cohabitation transitions on the health and wellbeing of single mothers and their offspring and projects examining the influence of peer networks and neighborhood characteristics on sexual health risk behavior.
I study the influence of family and other personal relationships on health and well-being with particular attention to the way in which these patterns are shaped by social structural factors, including gender, race/ethnicity, and life course position. My research challenges long-held assumptions about the links between marriage and health by demonstrating that the often cited benefits of marriage and the costs of marital dissolution are highly dependent on a range of individual and contextual factors, including marital
quality. My recent work includes an NICHD-funded project examining the consequences of nonmarital and early fertility for the health of women and their offspring and considers the role that subsequent marriage plays in shaping these outcomes. Findings from this project raise questions about the likely efficacy of U.S. government efforts to promote marriage, particularly among the groups most likely to experience nonmarital childbearing. Although nonmarital childbearing is associated with health detriments among women, subsequent marriage appears to offer few health benefits to most single mothers.
Policy Briefs and Op-Eds