Socioeconomic disparities in low birthweight: a comparison across Anglophone countries

Melissa L. Martinson, University of Washington
Nancy E. Reichman, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

Socioeconomic inequalities in health are pervasive in the developed world. Yet, despite a growing literature comparing health indicators across OECD countries, much remains to be learned about international comparisons of within country health inequalities—particularly early in life. Low birthweight is an important marker for health over the life course. In the United States, there is clear evidence of a socioeconomic gradient in this marker of health at the “starting gate,” but little is known about how that gradient compares to other countries. This paper uses data from four highly comparable, nationally representative studies to compare income gradients in low birthweight in Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States – Anglophone countries that share a common language and cultural similarities, but differ in their social safety nets. Preliminary results suggest that income inequalities in low birthweight are as pervasive in peer countries as in the United States despite more comprehensive social welfare and health care systems in the other countries.

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Presented in Session 38: Child well-being, health and development