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Keeping it in the family: the self-rated health of lone mothers in different European welfare regimes

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Clare Bambra



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Wiley-Blackwell, 2014.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


This study examines whether health inequalities exist between lone and cohabiting mothers across Europe, and how these may differ by welfare regime. Data from the European Social Survey were used to compare self-rated general health, limiting long-standing illness and depressive feelings by means of a multi-level logistic regression. The 27 countries included in the analyses are classified into six welfare regimes (Anglo-Saxon, Bismarckian, Southern, Nordic, Central East Europe (CEE) (new EU) and CEE (non-EU). Lone motherhood is defined as mothers not cohabiting with a partner, regardless of their legal marital status. The results indicate that lone mothers are more at risk of poor health than cohabiting mothers. This is most pronounced in the Anglo-Saxon regime for self-rated general health and limiting long-standing illness, while for depressive feelings it is most pronounced in the Bismarckian welfare regime. While the risk difference is smallest in the CEE regimes, both lone and cohabiting mothers also reported the highest levels of poor health compared with the other regimes. The results also show that a vulnerable socioeconomic position is associated with ill-health in lone mothers and that welfare regimes differ in the degree to which they moderate this association.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Van de Velde S, Bambra C, Van der Brecht K, Eikemo TA, Bracke P

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Sociology of Health and Illness

Year: 2014

Volume: 36

Issue: 8

Pages: 1220-1242

Print publication date: 01/11/2014

Online publication date: 03/12/2014

Acceptance date: 01/01/1900

Date deposited: 05/01/2017

ISSN (print): 0141-9889

ISSN (electronic): 1467-9566

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell


DOI: 10.1111/1467-9566.12162


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