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Journal Article

Family Status and Health Behaviors: Social Control as a Dimension of Social Integration

Debra Umberson
Journal of Health and Social Behavior
Vol. 28, No. 3 (Sep., 1987), pp. 306-319
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2136848
Page Count: 14
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Family Status and Health Behaviors: Social Control as a Dimension of Social Integration
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Abstract

Age-adjusted mortality rates are higher for the unmarried and nonparents than for the married and parents. The effects of marital and parental status on mortality are usually attributed to the positive effects of social integration or social support. The mechanisms by which social support or integration is linked to health outcomes, however, remain largely unexplored. One mechanism may involve health behaviors; the family relationships of marriage and parenting may provide external regulation and facilitate self-regulation of health behaviors which can affect health. The present study employs a national sample to examine the relationships of marital and parenting status to a variety of health behaviors. Results indicate that marriage and presence of children in the home have a deterrent effect on negative health behaviors. It is suggested, within the theoretical framework of social integration, that family roles promote social control of health behaviors which affect subsequent mortality.

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