State legislator gender and other characteristics associated with sponsorship of child health bills

Matthew M. Davis*, Amy M. Upston

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objective. - To examine the characteristics of state legislators who introduce child health bills. Methods. - We conducted a cross-sectional analysis of all bills introduced in Colorado, Louisiana, and Michigan during the 1997-1998 legislative session. We identified the topic for each bill while blinded to legislator characteristics. The primary study outcome was whether the bill topic related to child health. We also categorized whether the bill was signed into law. We examined associations between the outcomes and characteristics of the sponsoring legislators (gender, political party, terms served, chairpersonship of committees, legislative chamber, membership in the legislature's Black Caucus). Results. - During 1997 and 1998, legislators in the 3 study states introduced 9833 bills (1234 in Colorado, 4905 in Louisiana, and 3694 in Michigan). Sixty-five bills (0.66%) related to child health issues. Child health bills comprised a significantly higher proportion of all legislation introduced by female legislators compared with male legislators (1.5% vs 0.5%, P < .001). Of bills introduced by Black Caucus members, 1.4% pertained to child health compared with 0.59% of bills introduced by nonmembers (P < .01). In contrast, 0.23% of bills introduced by committee chairpersons pertained to child health versus 0.96% of bills introduced by nonchair legislators (P < .001). These associations remained statistically significant in multivariate analyses controlling for state effects. Whether child health bills were signed into law was not associated with other legislator characteristics. Conclusions. - This study offers valuable insights about the different roles of women, Black Caucus members, and committee chairpersons in the state legislative process regarding children's health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)295-302
Number of pages8
JournalAmbulatory Pediatrics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2004


  • Black Caucus
  • Child health
  • Law
  • Legislator
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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