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Infant Mortality in Uganda: Determinants, Trends and the Millennium Development Goals


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  • Sarah Ssewanyana
  • Stephen D. Younger


Unusually for an African economy, Uganda's growth has been rapid and sustained for an extended period of time. Further, this growth has clearly translated into substantial declines in poverty for all socioeconomic groups and in all regions of the country. Despite this, there is concern in the country that other indicators of well-being are not improving at the same rate as incomes. This paper studies one such indicator, infant mortality. We use three rounds of the Uganda Demographic and Health Surveys to construct a national time series for infant mortality over a long period of time, 1974--99. We also use these survey data to model the determinants of infant mortality and, on the basis of those results, to examine the likelihood that Uganda will meet the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving infant mortality by 2015. Key results of the paper include: (1) household assets and infant mortality are significantly negatively correlated, but the correlation is small, so even if Uganda's rapid growth were to continue for another decade, the impact on infant mortality rate (IMR) will be small up to 2015; (2) after controlling for individual, household and community determinants, there is no discernable time trend (up or down) in infant mortality in Uganda; (3) observed improvements in mothers' primary school graduation rates will have a significant impact on IMRs. Plausibly attainable improvements in mothers' secondary graduation rates will have a lesser impact, largely because the improvements in graduation rates are not so great as at the primary level; (4) improvements in vaccinations for childhood diseases and in general health care services can also cause significant reductions in IMRs and (5) nevertheless, even under optimistic assumptions about improvements in health care and education, Uganda will not achieve the MDG for infant mortality. Copyright 2008 The author 2007. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Centre for the Study of African Economies. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email:, Oxford University Press.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE) in its journal Journal of African Economies.

Volume (Year): 17 (2008)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 34-61

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Handle: RePEc:oup:jafrec:v:17:y:2008:i:1:p:34-61

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Cited by:
  1. Jane Kabubo-Mariara & Margaret M. Karienyeh & Francis K. Mwangi, 2008. "Child Survival, Poverty and Policy Options from DHS Surveys in Kenya: 1993-2003," Working Papers PMMA 2008-01, PEP-PMMA.
  2. Ssewanyana, Sarah & Kasirye, Ibrahim, 2012. "Causes of health inequalities in Uganda: Evidence from the demographic and health surveys," Research Series 148951, Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC).
  3. World Bank, 2009. "Human Development in Uganda : Meeting Challenges and Finding Solutions," World Bank Other Operational Studies 12658, The World Bank.
  4. Kenneth Harttgen & Mark Misselhorn, 2006. "A Multilevel Approach to Explain Child Mortality and Undernutrition in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa," Ibero America Institute for Econ. Research (IAI) Discussion Papers 152, Ibero-America Institute for Economic Research.
  5. Kasirye, Ibrahim, 2013. "HIV/AIDS sero-prevalence and socioeconomic status: Evidence from Uganda," Research Series 148952, Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC).
  6. Herrin, William E. & Amaral, Michelle M. & Balihuta, Arsene M., 2013. "The relationships between housing quality and occupant health in Uganda," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 81(C), pages 115-122.
  7. Ahamad, Mazbahul Golam & Tasnima, Kaniz & Khaled, Nafisa & Bairagi, Subir Kanti & Deb, Uttam Kumar, 2010. "Infant Mortality Situation in Bangladesh in 2007: A District Level Analysis," MPRA Paper 21102, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  8. John Cockburn & Ibrahim Kasirye & Jane Kabubo-Mariara & Luca Tiberti & Gemma Ahaibwe, 2014. "Situation Analysis of Child Poverty and Deprivation in Uganda," Working Papers MPIA 2014-03, PEP-MPIA.
  9. Lay, Jann & Robilliard, Anne-Sophie, 2009. "The complementarity of MDG achievements : the case of child mortality in Sub-Saharan Africa," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5062, The World Bank.
  10. David E. Sahn & Stephen D. Younger, 2009. "Measuring intra‐household health inequality: explorations using the body mass index," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(S1), pages S13-S36, April.
  11. Ana Poças & Elias Soukiazis, 2012. "Explaining the interrelations between health, education and standards of living in Portugal. A simultaneous equation approach," GEMF Working Papers 2012-06, GEMF - Faculdade de Economia, Universidade de Coimbra.
  12. Han, Peter & Foltz, Jeremy, 2013. "The Impacts of Climate Shocks on Child Mortality in Mali," 2013 Annual Meeting, August 4-6, 2013, Washington, D.C. 150395, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.


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