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Soc Sci Med. 2004 Oct;59(7):1449-59.

Premature mortality among lone fathers and childless men.

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Centre for Epidemiology, Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare, 106 30 Stockholm, Sweden.


This study focuses on male family situation and premature mortality. For a total of 682,919 men, we analysed mortality from different causes (1991-2000) among lone fathers, with and without custody of their children, and among childless men, with and without partners. Long-term cohabiting fathers with a child in their household were used as comparison group. We employed data from Swedish censuses, national health-data registers, and a Swedish register containing information about known biological relations between children and parents. We investigated the extent to which different kinds of relations were influenced by varying socioeconomic circumstances between groups, and also processes of health selection. The results suggest that lone non-custodial fathers and lone childless men face the greatest increase in risks, especially from injury and addiction, and also from all-cause mortality and ischaemic heart disease. Being a lone custodial father also entails increased risk, although generally to a much lesser extent, and not for all outcomes. The elevated risks found in all the subgroups considered diminished substantially when proxy variables to control for health-selection effects and socioeconomic circumstances were added to the initial model. Risks fell most in response to introduction of the socioeconomic variables, but health selection also played a major role, mostly in the cases of lone non-custodial fathers and lone childless men. However, even following these adjustments, significant risk increases, although greatly attenuated, remained for all the subgroups.

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