203817 Poverty, risk behavior and marriage: The effects of positive marital expectations on the future risk behaviors of adolescents growing up in poverty

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Monique Mullins , Division of Community Health, Jefferson County Department of Health, Birmingham, AL
Cheri Holmes, MPH , Department of Health Behavior, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL
John Bolland, PhD , College of Human & Environmental Services, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL
Brad Lian, PhD , College of Human & Environmental Services, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL
A growing literature considers adolescent attitudes toward marriage (e.g., Brown, Feiring, & Furman, 1999; Collins & Sroufe, 1999). However, little is known about how youth living in poverty view their possibilities of future family formation. Marriage expectations and attitudes are important because research shows marriage has positive impacts on adults and children and is associated with positive social, economic, and physical outcomes (Waite, 1995). The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of positive marital expectations on the behaviors of adolescents living in impoverished neighborhoods. This study capitalizes on the Mobile Youth Survey (MYS), a 12-year study being conducted in youth who live in social disadvantaged areas in Mobile and Prichard Alabama, with 99 percent of MYS participants identifying African-American or biracial. The MYS is a community-based, multiple cohort longitudinal study that includes annual data collection. The survey is administered to youth ages 10-18 years of age. The MYS has been conducted yearly since 1998 and attempts to follow every participant until they turn 19 years old. Using data from 1998-2006, hierarchial linear modeling showed there were significant differences between the three different levels of positive marital expectations (None, Some, and A lot) and adolescent outcomes including alcohol use (p<0.0001), crack use (p<0.001), arrests (p<0.0001), unwanted sexual intercourse (p<0.05), gun carrying (p<0.05), frequency of sex (p<0.05), gang involvement (p<0.05), etc. The data shows that adolescents living in poverty hold future marital expectations. The data also shows that these positive marital expectations are related to lower levels of risky behaviors in adolescents living in impoverished neighborhoods

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify the risk behaviors and psychological variables related to positive marriage expectations in adolescents living and growing up in impoverished neighborhoods. 2. Describe how risk behaviors and psychological well-being effects positive marital expectation in adolescents growing up in impoverished neighborhoods. 3. Discuss the implications of marital expectations on adolescents living and growing up in impoverished neighborhoods.

Keywords: Adolescent Health, Poverty

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a second year Master of Public Health student at the University of Alabama at Birminingham. I have worked as a research assistant for the Mobile Youth Survey for over a year. In that time frame, I spent last summer in Mobile, AL collecting the MYS data in the field. I conducted the literature review for this abstract, along with the data analysis.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.