Single mothers and fathers have poorer health

News-Medical.Net 17 June 2007
Single mothers and fathers have poorer health than married or cohabitating couples, according to a new dissertation at Uppsala University. Marcus Westin’s study also shows that the social capital that parents have affects both their own and their children’s health, and that society should therefore make it easier for single parents to take part in social activities. The study shows that both single mothers and fathers evince poorer health than parents who are married or cohabitate. Moreover, single mothers refrain from seeking the help of physicians to a much greater extent than married or cohabitating mothers, even when the individuals personally experience a need for care. Both health and use of health care are strongly associated with sociodemographic and socioeconomic factors such as background, level of education, and private economy. Generally speaking, single fathers have a better socioeconomic situation than single mothers, and they seek medical help more readily than single mothers do. But they also have poorer health than married and cohabitating fathers. One explanation may be, according to Marcus Westin, that what impacts health is not an absolute, but rather a relative, lack of socioeconomic resources.In children as well there was a connection between poor mental health and single parents. Children are also affected by their parent’s social capital; on the other hand, the parent’s economy, educational level, background, or possible unemployment plays no role in the mental health of children.