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The Health of Poor Women Under Welfare Reform

Publication Abstract

Kaplan, George A., K. Siefert, N. Ranjit, T.E. Ragunathan, E.A. Young, D. Tran, S. Danziger, S. Hudson, John W. Lynch, and R. Tolman. 2005. "The Health of Poor Women Under Welfare Reform." American Journal of Public Health, 95(7): 1252-1258.

Objectives. We compared the health of single mothers affected by welfare reform with the health of a nationally representative sample of women to document the prevalence of poor health as single mothers experience the effects of welfare reform. Methods. We compared risk factors and measures of health among women randomly sampled from the welfare rolls with similar data from a nationaily representative sample of women.

Results. Women in our welfare recipient sample had higher rates of elevated glycosylated hemoglobin (>= 6%; prevalence ratio [PR] =4.87; 95% confidence interval [Cl]=2.69, 7.04), hypertension (systole >= 140 or diastole >= 90; PR=2.36; 95% Cl = 1.47, 3.24), high body mass index (>= 30; PR = 1.78; 95% Cl = 1.49, 2.08), and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (<= 35 mg/dL; PR=1.91; 95% Cl=1.17, 2.65); lower peak expiratory flow; and less physical functioning. Current smoking rates were higher (PR = 1.85; 95% Cl = 1.50, 2.19) and smoking cessation rates were lower (PR =0.62; 95% Cl = 0.37, 0.86) than in the national sample.

Conclusions. Current and former welfare recipients bear a substantial burden of illness. Further studies are necessary to interpret our findings of worsened health in the wake of welfare reform.

DOI:10.2105/AJPH.2004.037804 (Full Text)

PMCID: PMC1449348. (Pub Med Central)

Country of focus: United States.

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