Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 24, Issue 2, pp 416–426

Parental Loss and Residential Instability: The Impact on Young Women from Low-Income Households in Detroit

  • Leslie R. Berman
  • Rachel C. Snow
  • Jessica D. Moorman
  • Deena Policicchio
  • Arline T. Geronimus
  • Mark B. Padilla
Original Paper

Abstract

High poverty urban areas in the U.S. are over-burdened by early adult death and disability, yet there has been little documentation of how early parental death impacts youth residing in these communities. We conducted qualitative, community-based research on the health and well-being of 20 residentially unstable young women ages 18–24 in Detroit during 2011–2012. Participants were selected through their association with a local social service organization. We found that nine of these 20 young women had experienced the loss of a parent or primary caretaker during childhood or adolescence. Using data from in-depth, semi-structured interviews, this paper explores the role of parental loss as a precipitating event for residential instability and episodic homelessness. For these young women, parental loss was a catalyst for subsequent periods of intermittent homelessness and persistent mobility between the households of extended family and friends. These narratives provide unique testimony to the impact of early parental loss on young women from low-income households in an economically-stressed urban context in the U.S. Their stories highlight the dynamic associations between periods of housing insecurity and vulnerability to numerous social risks, including sexual commerce, acute stress, and alienation from social support networks. In this context, parental loss reflects a broader social inequality of early adult mortality in high poverty areas, and the health and social gains to be realized through targeted policies to support areas of urban economic crisis.

Keywords

Parental death Homeless youth Young adult women Urban health Poverty 

References

  1. Adam, E. K., & Chase-Lansdale, P. L. (2002). Home sweet home(s): Parental separations, residential moves, and adjustment problems in low-income adolescent girls. Developmental Psychology, 38, 792–805.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ainsworth, M., & Semali, I. (2000). The impact of adult deaths on children’s health in northwestern Tanzania. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 2266. Retrieved from http://elibrary.worldbank.org/content/workingpaper/10.1596/1813-9450-2266.
  3. Barker, M. M. (2011). Manufacturing employment hard hit during the 2007–09 recession. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Monthly Labor Review, 28–33. Retrieved from http://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2011/04/art5full.pdf.
  4. Brent, D., Melhem, N., Donohoe, M. B., & Walker, M. (2009). The incidence and course of depression in bereaved youth 21 months after the loss of a parent to suicide, accident, or sudden natural death. American Journal of Psychiatry, 166, 786–794.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Burgard, S., Seefeldt, K., & Zelner S. W. (2012). Housing instability and health: Findings from the Michigan Recession and Recovery Study. Population Studies Center Research Report No. 12-749. Retrieved from http://www.psc.isr.umich.edu/pubs/pdf/rr12-749.pdf.
  6. Carten, A. J., & Fennoy, I. (1997). African American families and HIV/AIDS: Caring for surviving children. Child Welfare, 76, 107–125.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Ellis, R. T., & Granger, J. M. (2002). African American adults’ perceptions of the effects of parental loss during adolescence. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, 19, 271–284.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Federal Reserve System. (2012). The U.S. housing market: Current conditions and policy considerations. White Paper, Washington, DC Retrieved from http://www.federalreserve.gov/publications/other-reports/files/housing-white-paper-20120104.pdf.
  9. Ford, K., & Hosegood, V. (2005). AIDS mortality and the mobility of children in Kwazulu Natal, South Africa. Demography, 42, 757–768.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Geronimus, A. T. (1992). The weathering hypothesis and the health of African-American women and infants: Evidence and speculations. Ethnicity and Disease, 2, 207–221.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Geronimus, A. T. (2001). Understanding and eliminating racial inequalities in women’s health in the United States: The role of the weathering conceptual framework. Journal of the American Medical Women’s Association, 56, 133–136.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Geronimus, A. T., Bound, J., & Colen, C. G. (2011). Excess black mortality in the United States and in selected black and white high-poverty areas, 1980–2000. American Journal of Public Health, 101, 720–729.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Geronimus, A. T., Bound, J., & Waidmann, T. A. (1999a). Health inequality and population variation in fertility-timing. Social Science and Medicine, 49, 1623–1636.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Geronimus, A. T., Bound, J., & Waidmann, T. A. (1999b). Poverty, time and place: Variation in excess mortality across selected US populations, 1980–1990. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 53, 325–334.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Geronimus, A. T., Bound, J., Waidmann, T. A., Colen, C. G., & Steffick, D. (2001). Inequality in life expectancy, functional status, and active life expectancy across selected black and white populations in the United States. Demography, 38, 227–251.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Geronimus, A. T., Bound, J., Waidmann, T. A., Hillemeier, M. M., & Burns, P. B. (1996). Excess mortality among blacks and whites in the United States. New England Journal of Medicine, 355, 1552–1558.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Greene, J. M., Ennett, S. T., & Ringwalt, C. L. (1997). Substance use among runaway and homeless youth in three national samples. American Journal of Public Health, 87, 229–235.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Greene, J. M., Ennett, S. T., & Ringwalt, C. L. (1999). Prevalence and correlates of survival sex among runaway and homeless youth. American Journal of Public Health, 89, 1406–1409.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Greene, J. M., & Ringwalt, C. L. (1998). Pregnancy among three national samples of runaway and homeless youth. Journal of Adolescent Health, 23, 370–377.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Harper, S., Lynch, J., Burris, S., & Davey Smith, G. (2007). Trends in the black-white life expectancy gap in the United States, 1983–2003. Journal of the American Medical Association, 297, 1224–1232.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Harris, E. S. (1991). Adolescent bereavement following the death of a parent: An exploratory study. Child Psychiatry and Human Development, 21, 267–281.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Heslin, K. C., Robinson, P. L., Baker, R. S., & Gelberg, L. (2007). Community characteristics and violence against homeless women in Los Angeles County. Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, 18, 203–218.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Jelleyman, T., & Spencer, N. (2008). Residential mobility in childhood and health outcomes: A systematic review. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 62, 584–592.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kidd, S. A., & Carroll, M. R. (2007). Coping and suicidality among homeless youth. Journal of Adolescence, 30, 283–296.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Levine, R. S., Foster, J. E., Fullilove, R. E., Fullilove, M. T., Briggs, N. C., Hull, P. C., et al. (2001). Black-white inequalities in mortality and life expectancy, 1933–1999: Implications for Healthy People 2010. Public Health Reports, 116, 474–483.PubMedCentralPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Lin, K. K., Sandler, I. N., Ayers, T. S., Wolchik, S. A., & Luecken, L. J. (2004). Resilience in parentally bereaved children and adolescents seeking preventive services. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 33, 673–683.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Lopez, W. D., Graham, L. F., Reardon, C., Reyes, A. M., Reyes, A., & Padilla, M. (2012). “No jobs, more crime. More jobs, less crime:” Structural factors affecting the health of Latino men in Detroit. Journal of Men’s Health, 9, 255–260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Love, C., David, R. J., Rankin, K. M., & Collins, J. W., Jr. (2010). Exploring weathering: Effects of lifelong economic environment and maternal age on low birth weight, small for gestational age, and preterm birth in African-American and White women. American Journal of Epidemiology, 172, 127–134.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Lu, M. C., & Halfon, N. (2003). Racial and ethnic disparities in birth outcomes: A life-course perspective. Maternal and Child Health Journal, 7, 13–30.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Massey, D. S., & Fischer, M. J. (2000). How segregation concentrates poverty. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 23, 670–691.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Melhem, N. M., Porta, G., Shamsedden, W., Walker Payne, M., & Brent, D. A. (2011). Grief in children and adolescents bereaved by sudden parental death. Archives of General Psychiatry, 68, 911–919.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Michaels, D., & Levine, C. (1992). Estimates of the number of motherless youth orphaned by AIDS in the United States. Journal of the American Medical Association, 268, 3456–3461.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Nicholas, S. W., & Abrams, E. J. (1992). The “silent” legacy of AIDS: Children who survive their parents and siblings. Journal of the American Medical Association, 268, 3478–3479.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Olshansky, S. J., Antonucci, T., Berkman, L., Binstock, R. H., Boersch-Supan, A., Cacioppo, J. T., et al. (2012). Differences in life expectancy due to race and educational differences are widening, and many may not catch up. Health Affairs, 31, 1803–1813.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Schilling, R. F., Koh, N., Abramovitz, R., & Gilbert, L. (1992). Bereavement groups for inner-city children. Research on Social Work Practice, 2, 405–419.Google Scholar
  36. Schulz, A. J., Israel, B., Williams, D., Parker, E., Becker, A., & James, S. (2000). Social inequalities, stressors and self reported health status among African American and white women in the Detroit metropolitan area. Social Science and Medicine, 51, 1639–1653.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Schulz, A. J., Israel, B. A., Zenk, S. N., Parker, E. A., Lichtenstein, R., Shellman-Weir, S., et al. (2006). Psychosocial stress and social support as mediators of relationships between income, length of residence and depressive symptoms among African American women on Detroit’s eastside. Social Science and Medicine, 62, 510–522.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Schulz, A., Parker, E., Israel, B., & Fisher, T. (2001). Social context, stressors, and disparities in women’s health. Journal of the American Medical Women’s Association, 56, 143–149.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. Schulz, A. J., Williams, D. R., Israel, B. A., & Lempert, L. B. (2002). Racial and spatial relations as fundamental determinants of health in Detroit. The Milbank Quarterly, 80, 677–707.Google Scholar
  40. Schuster, M. A., Kanouse, D. E., Morton, S. C., Bozzette, S. A., Miu, A., Scott, G. B., et al. (2000). HIV-infected parents and their children in the United States. American Journal of Public Health, 90, 1074–1081.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Skinner, C. (2012). Protecting the safety net in tough times: Lessons from the States. Report from the National Center for Children in Poverty, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University. Retrieved from http://www.nccp.org/publications/pdf/text_1061.pdf.
  42. Smid, M., Bourgois, P., & Auserwald, C. L. (2010). The challenge of pregnancy among homeless youth: Reclaiming a lost opportunity. Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, 21, 140–156.PubMedCentralPubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. Sorlie, P. D., Blacklund, E., & Keller, J. B. (1995). U.S. mortality by economic, demographic, and social characteristics: The National Longitudinal Mortality Study. American Journal of Public Health, 85, 949–956.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Stein, J. A., Riedel, M., & Rotheram-Borus, M. J. (1999). Parentification and its impact on adolescent children of parents with AIDS. Family Process, 38, 193–208.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Sugrue, T. J. (1996). The origins of the urban crisis: Race and inequality in postwar Detroit. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  46. Toro, P. A., Dworsky, A., & Fowler, P. J. (2007). Homeless youth in the United States: Recent research findings and intervention approaches. Toward understanding homelessness: The 2007 National Symposium on Homelessness Research. Retrieved from http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/homelessness/symposium07/toro/.
  47. Tremblay, G. C., & Israel, A. C. (1998). Children’s adjustment to parental death. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 5, 424–438.Google Scholar
  48. U.S. Census Bureau. (2013). State & Country QuickFacts: Detroit, Michigan. Retrieved from http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/26/2622000.html.
  49. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Framework: Healthy People 2020. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Retrieved from http://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/consortium/HP2020Framework.pdf.
  50. U.S. Department of Labor. (2013). Unemployment rates for the 50 largest cities, annual average rankings, Year: 2010. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved from http://www.bls.gov/lau/lacilg10.htm.
  51. Williams, D. R. (2002). Racial/ethnic variations in women’s health: The social embeddedness of health. American Journal of Public Health, 92, 588–597.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Williams, D. R. (2005). Patterns and causes of disparities in health. In D. Mechanic, L. B. Rogut, D. C. Colby, & J. R. Knickman (Eds.), Policy challenges in modern health care (pp. 115–134). New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
  53. Williams, D. R., & Collins, C. (1995). U.S. socioeconomic and racial differences in health: Patterns and explanations. Annual Review of Sociology, 21, 349–386.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Williams, D. R., Mohammed, S. A., Leavell, J., & Collins, C. (2010). Race, socioeconomic status, and health: Complexities, ongoing challenges, and research opportunities. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1186, 69–101.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Young, L., & Ansell, N. (2003). Young AIDS migrants in Southern Africa: Policy implications for empowering children. AIDS Care, 15, 337–345.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Leslie R. Berman
    • 1
  • Rachel C. Snow
    • 1
  • Jessica D. Moorman
    • 2
  • Deena Policicchio
    • 3
  • Arline T. Geronimus
    • 1
  • Mark B. Padilla
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, School of Public HealthUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.Department of Communication Studies, College of Literature, Science, and the ArtsUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  3. 3.Alternatives for GirlsDetroitUSA
  4. 4.Department of Global and Sociocultural Studies, School of International and Public AffairsFlorida International UniversityMiamiUSA

Personalised recommendations