The impact of support network substitution on low-income women's health: Are minor children beneficial substitutes?

Kristin D. Mickelson, Jessica L. Demmings

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

Poor women have elevated stress but also face deficits in their social networks to provide help. Consequently, they may substitute their minor children as a support source in place of more traditional ties. Support substitution and compensation theory suggest this form of substitution may not lead to compensatory benefits. We hypothesized that low-income mothers experiencing high levels of acute and network stress would be more likely to rely on their minor children, and this reliance on minor children would be related to worse health outcomes through its impact on minor children's well-being. In an interview-based community study of 116 low-income mothers from Northeast Ohio, USA we found that acute stress (but not network stress) was related to greater reliance on minor children for support and the impact on minor children's well-being mediated the link with low-income mothers' worse health outcomes. These results suggest that the reason for and type of social network substitution may determine whether compensatory benefits are realized.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)80-88
Number of pages9
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Volume68
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2009
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Children
  • Health outcomes
  • Network substitution
  • Poverty
  • Social support
  • USA
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science

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