Maternal Upward Socioeconomic Mobility and Black-White Disparities in Infant Birthweight

The authors study the extent to which upward socioeconomic mobility limits the probability that black and white women who spent their childhoods in or near poverty will give birth to a low-birthweight baby.

Data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 and the 1970 U.S. Census were used to complete a series of logistic regression models and were restricted using multivariate analyses to female survey respondents who, at 14 years of age, were living in households in which the income-to-needs ratio did not exceed 200 percent of poverty.

The study found that for white women, the probability of giving birth to a low-birthweight baby decreases by 48 percent for every one unit increase in the natural logarithm of adult family income, once the effects of all other covariates are taken into account. For black women, the relation between adult family income and the probability of low birthweight is also negative; however, this association fails to reach statistical significance.

The authors conclude that upward socioeconomic mobility contributes to improved birth outcomes among infants born to white women who were poor as children, but the same does not hold true for their black counterparts.