POSTPONED: Belinda Hewitt (University of Melbourne)
27 February 2020 @ 14:00 - 15:30
“Stability and change in household composition and the general health of Australian Indigenous children and mothers: Evidence from the Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children (LSIC)”
Abstract: Australia’s Indigenous peoples experience extreme disadvantage and have poorer health and wellbeing than non-Indigenous Australians on every indicator. Family life is an important social determinant of health, but to date little or no empirical research has examined links between family and household structure and Indigenous Australians health. We investigate the associations between household composition and general health of Indigenous Australian children and their mothers, whether change in household composition is associated with change in health over time and what factors account for any health differences. We analysed survey panel data on 1,487 Indigenous children and 1,482 mothers from 8 waves of the Australian Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children (LSIC). Our measure of households attempted to capture the complexity of Indigenous households. It comprised 8 categories differentiating between couple and lone parent households with and without other children and adults. Our dependent variable was self-rated health, ranging from 1) Excellent, to 4) Poor. We also include a range of social, economic and demographic confounders and covariates. Longitudinal analyses were conducted using between-within ordered logit random effects models. After adjustment for all covariates study children in couple households with other children and adults were 16% less likely to have excellent health and mothers in these households were 7% less likely to report excellent health than those in couple and study child only households. We find little evidence of poorer health amongst mothers and study children in lone parent households after adjustment for covariates, particularly if there are other adults in the household. The fixed effects results suggested change in household composition was generally associated better health for mothers and study children, but most of these associations were not significant. We conclude that household composition is important for Indigenous health, but in ways that are subtly different from non-indigenous Australians.