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Infant Mortality Rate as a Measure of a Country’s Health: A Robust Method to Improve Reliability and Comparability

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  • Robert M. Gonzalez

    () (University of South Carolina)

  • Donna Gilleskie

    () (University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill)

Abstract

Abstract Researchers and policymakers often rely on the infant mortality rate as an indicator of a country’s health. Despite arguments about its relevance, uniform measurement of infant mortality is necessary to guarantee its use as a valid measure of population health. Using important socioeconomic indicators, we develop a novel method to adjust country-specific reported infant mortality figures. We conclude that an augmented measure of mortality that includes both infant and late fetal deaths should be considered when assessing levels of social welfare in a country. In addition, mortality statistics that exhibit a substantially high ratio of late fetal to early neonatal deaths should be more closely scrutinized.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert M. Gonzalez & Donna Gilleskie, 2017. "Infant Mortality Rate as a Measure of a Country’s Health: A Robust Method to Improve Reliability and Comparability," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 54(2), pages 701-720, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:demogr:v:54:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s13524-017-0553-7
    DOI: 10.1007/s13524-017-0553-7
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Jonathan Gruber & Nathaniel Hendren & Robert M. Townsend, 2014. "The Great Equalizer: Health Care Access and Infant Mortality in Thailand," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 6(1), pages 91-107, January.
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    5. Andrew Foster & Emilio Gutierrez & Naresh Kumar, 2009. "Voluntary Compliance, Pollution Levels, and Infant Mortality in Mexico," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 191-197, May.
    6. Birchenall, Javier A., 2007. "Economic Development and the Escape from High Mortality," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 35(4), pages 543-568, April.
    7. Lant Pritchett & Lawrence H. Summers, 1996. "Wealthier is Healthier," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 31(4), pages 841-868.
    8. McGuire, James W., 2006. "Basic health care provision and under-5 mortality: A Cross-National study of developing Countries," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 405-425, March.
    9. Michael Greenstone & Kenneth Y. Chay, 2000. "The Convergence in Black-White Infant Mortality Rates during the 1960's," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 326-332, May.
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