Impact of Poor Child Health on Community Involvement in Adolescence

Monday, June 24, 2019: 10:30 AM
Jackson - Mezzanine Level (Marriott Wardman Park Hotel)

Presenter: Hope Corman

Co-Authors: Manuel Jimenez; Kelly Noonan; Nancy Reichman

Discussant: Sabrina Terrizzi

Participation in after-school and community activities are important for teens’ development of human capital, social skills, and community ties and may thus affect their economic and health trajectories. Previous research has found that disabled children are less likely than non-disabled children to participate in such activities. However, the existing studies focus on very specific types of disabilities and activities, and almost all used small, specialized samples. In this study, we use population-based data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing (FFCWB) Study to investigate the effects of having early childhood health risks between birth and age 9 years on school and community involvement—including participation in sports, performing arts, clubs, religious activities, and volunteering—at age 15 years.

The FFCWB study is well-suited for investigating the impact of early childhood health risks on teen outcomes. It is a national urban birth cohort study that includes include detailed information on the health of the children from birth, background information on both of the child’s parents whether or not the father resides in the child’s household, and reports on the child’s activities at age 15 from both the child him/herself and his/her primary caregiver.

Preliminary results suggest that children with early health risks are significantly less likely than their healthier peers to engage in a range of extracurricular activities, including school clubs and activities as well as broader community activities such as volunteering and religious activities. The associations are stronger for mothers with lower levels of education.

The findings from this study will provide important population-level information about the social development of children with early health risks and contribute to the broader literature on social interactions and health by considering reverse linkages at a critical period of the lifecourse.