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Three essays on the well-being of Canadian children and their families

TitleThree essays on the well-being of Canadian children and their families
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsDaley, A.
Date PublishedJune
UniversityDalhousie University
CityHalifax, NS
Keywordscanada, child welfare, economic conditions, families, northern, poverty, social conditions

This dissertation pertains to the well-being of Canadian children and families. I focus on the relationship between socio-economic status and health, while emphasizing vulnerable populations. In Chapter 2, my co-authors and I provide the first direct estimates of poverty and inequality in Northern Canada compared to the rest of the country. A novel aspect of this work is that we account for cost of living, which is 46 percent higher in the North. This has important implications for poverty and inequality in the region. We find that 20.5 percent of Northern families with children are poor compared to 9.5 percent in the South. And, while ten percent of the Southern population is represented in each income decile, 31 percent of Northern families with children are at the bottom of the distribution. In Chapter 3, I transition from describing income (and disparities thereof) to considering its effect on health. I exploit an exogenous increase in income for Canadian families with young children (i.e. Universal Child Care Benefit) to answer the following questions: Is there a relationship between income and mental health among Canadian mothers? Is it corroborated by other measures of well-being (i.e. stress, life satisfaction)? Is the effect different for lone mothers compared to those in two-parent families? I examine these issues with a triple difference model and microdata from the Canadian Community Health Survey. I find the income transfer improves mental health and life satisfaction regardless of family structure. It also reduces stress among lone mothers. Finally, in Chapter 4, I compare prenatal smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal women. I find that 42 percent of Aboriginal women smoke during pregnancy compared to 15 percent of the non-Aboriginal population. Likewise a relatively large proportion of Aboriginal women are regularly exposed to second-hand smoke (i.e. 39.5 versus 17 percent). Important correlates include: marital status; income; geography; age at childbirth; and education. The latter two are particularly important for Aboriginal women. And, while Aboriginal women are more likely to smoke during pregnancy, there is no difference in the number of cigarettes per day among those who do.

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