Teen births, income inequality, and social capital: developing an understanding of the causal pathway

Health Place. 2002 Jun;8(2):77-83. doi: 10.1016/s1353-8292(01)00027-2.


Many studies have demonstrated a relationship between income inequality and poor health, but how does income inequality impact health? One possible explanation is that greater income inequality undermines social capital (social cohesion, civic engagement, and mutual trust in a community). We conducted path analyses of the relationship between income inequality, poverty, and teen birth rate, testing for the mediating effect of social capital in 39 US states. Birth rate was affected by both poverty and income inequality, though income inequality appeared to affect teen birth rate primarily through its impact on social capital.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Birth Rate
  • Causality
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Poverty*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy in Adolescence / ethnology*
  • Social Class*
  • Social Identification
  • Social Justice*
  • United States / epidemiology