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Income Inequality and Education Disparity Among Black and White in Comparison to Low Birth Weight


The study seeks to investigate the effects of moderate and very low birth weight (MBW/VLBW) between white and black women and persistent income disparities between the mentioned two groups. Thus, blacks born into poverty or low-income households shall give birth to children of low birth weight than their white counterparts in the higher income bracket. According to the study, low birth weight is considered as less than (<2,500g) and very low birth weight at (<1500g) (Brown et al., p.1598). In addition, the hypothesis is increased income mobility and education impact choices made during prenatal and pregnancy that result in MBW/VLBW. The variables considered are the total maternal education and child body weight at birth, the disposable income of the mother, and frequent medical visits. Hence, the results indicate that white mothers with higher incomes and better education give birth to normal babies instead of poor, uneducated black mothers with low-weight birth babies. Thus low weight birth is a predictor of infant deaths and an indicator of socioeconomic status.


The primary data source originated from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). Also, data sampled included young women aged 14–22 years of age, ranging from disadvantaged women of low-income backgrounds and educated women with higher education, married and greater income bracket. Moreover, proximate predictors of low birth weight such as maternal tobacco use, alcohol consumption, and prenatal care education are considered. Participants are represented in graphs and tables indicating household income disparities and subsequent low weight measures. Estimate issues arise when analyzing factors that contribute to low birth weight, such as smoking and drinking, which is not necessarily the case.


Low birth weight bears both long and short-term health costs on the individual, mortality rate, family, and society. 35% of the total health costs of newborn children in the U.S. relate to low weight birth, which constitutes 8% of low weight babies (Chevalier et al.,p.8-10). In addition, low-weight babies have weak immune systems and require extra health care maintenance costs to adulthood. Low weight is associated with reduced cognitive capacity with low education attainment –height, IQ, education, and wage potential, affecting the entry point in the labor market. Indeed, these adverse effects of choices made before and during pregnancy by an uneducated and impoverished mother only reflect low investment in her health due to the prevailing disposable income and post-natal environment. Thus, babies already exposed to the biological risk of low weight are greatly affected by environmental risks instead of healthy normal babies. The factors that contribute to a healthy pregnancy include; genetics, gestation period, and fetal development. However, nutrition is a critical aspect of healthy fetal growth. Indeed, consumption of alcohol, coffee, and smoking during pregnancy bear detrimental risks towards low birth weight, coupled with emotional stress during the term of pregnancy.

Education and low weight birth

Moreover, prenatal medical care is critical to determine any unusual growth in the fetus, educate the mother on nutrition diet. Most of the factors mentioned above are within the ambit of the maternal mother; thus, an effort to improve maternal education translates to normal weight babies as illustrated in Table 2; the older the maternal mother, the chances for a normal weight baby. The chart below indicates the disparities between low birth weight and maternal education. Thus, mothers with higher education have heavier babies. Moreover, the statistics could mean a greater awareness of the necessity for nutrition during childbirth, the importance of attending prenatal medical appointments.

Further, higher education is associated with improved wages. However, the socioeconomic gap between whites and blacks persists, with blacks four times more likely than whites to be poor. Because education is viewed as the vehicle for upward social mobility, lack of education impedes blacks.

Further, more educated mothers conform to assortative mating, increasing chances of getting pregnant after their preferential partner’s wedding, therefore consolidating their financial resources. Hence, educated women discover the pregnancy at inception and seek medical guidance, as opposed to women with low education levels – discover the pregnancy later in the pregnancy. Because stress during pregnancy affects fetal growth, educated mothers receive more support from their spouses, reducing low-weight birth chances.

Graph A

Maternal Education vs Birth Weight

Table 1

Age Mother Left education

Minimum School leaving age 14

Minimum School Leaving age 15

14 67.59
15 10.97 78.35
16 11.15 14.19
17 4.41 3.93
18 1.71 2.05
19 or 20 1.48 0.61
21 or above 2.70 0.86
observation 5,489 2,776

Table 2

Birth Outcome 14 15 16 17 18 19/20 21_+
Birth weight(g) 3343


3283 3345 3350 3388 3292 3455
Birth Weight Low(<2500g) 0.054 0.054 0.036 0.054 0.040 0.082 0.017
Birth Weight High (>4000g) 0.103 0.070 0.077 0.100 0.132 0.092 0.110

Graph B

Adjusted H.H. Income

Income and low birth weight

Moreover, whether income directly connects to low weight birth is controversial. Thus, Graph A shows that as income increases, the probability of low weight birth decreases. Evident that the maternal mother requires a nutritional diet that favors the growth of the fetus. The effects of intense weight birth children affect them throughout their lives. The propensity of suffering from heart problems, respiratory ailments, and intestinal complications is rife. Thus, the medical attention required to have the semblance of a normal life is great – $27,000 for low birth babies compared to $3,200 for normal babies. Indeed, maternal mothers from the lower economic bracket cannot afford the financial burden of caring for a low-weight baby. Hence, the consequences include neglecting the child from acquiring a normal upbringing. Further, the distress that follows neglect prevents normal cognitive growth, poor performance in school, and later in adult life, reduced chances for social mobility.

Therefore, increased poverty translates to difficulty in accessing prenatal medical services. Of course, the correlation between poverty and education suggests that women who drop out in high school have lesser disposable income than their college counterparts. The black women continue to suffer from the effects of low weight birth due to combined factors that seem inseparable – inferior education, income disparity, and social segregation from health facilities. These factors cause psychosocial repercussions increasing the occurrence of low-weight babies. Indeed, a policy that offers to secure vulnerable groups by accessing medical facilities is not enough. Further, what is required is an overhaul of the education sector to ensure that black women receive the quality education that guarantees reproductive choice and assortative mating.

However, the above study reveals that many of the causes of low weight birth pertain to a lack of understanding of the needs of the fetus and the lifestyle adopted by the maternal mother. A majority of complications arising from low delivery relate to the mother’s total choices during pregnancy. In contrast, certain variables such as a toxic environment, lack of education, income disparity, and societal stresses impede black women’s access to proper health care. The benefits of reducing low birth weight are perceived from conception to maturity. It is estimated that annual maternal education leads to a 75g increment of the baby and further increases the wage percentage by 0.2%. The above statistics conclude that it is life-changing to improve low weight birth. In addition, the extra cost of caring for the complications of low weight birth is transferred to the gross household income, thus improving the family wellbeing and standard of living. The cost to the government in meeting health expenses associated with low birth are diverted sectors that assist in alleviating poverty within the vulnerable communities. Besides, the strides made in technology are used to share information and educate mothers on proper nutrition, the advantages of frequent medical visits, and most importantly, educating vulnerable mothers on the necessity of adopting healthy lifestyles.

Works Cited

Brown, Clare C., et al. “Association of state Medicaid expansion states with low birth weight and preterm birth.” Jama 321.16 (2019): 1598-1609.

Chevalier, Arnaud, and Vincent O’Sullivan. Mother’s Education and Birth Weight. 2007.


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