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Inequality and Infant and Childhood Mortality in the United States in the Twentieth Century


  • Michael R. Haines


This paper deals with the issue of using infant and childhood mortality as an indicator of inequality. The case is that of the United States in the 20th century. Using microdata from the 1900 and 1910 Integrated Public Use Microsamples (IPUMS), published data from the Birth Registration Area in the 1920s, results from a number of surveys, and the Linked Birth & Infant Death Files from the National Center for Health Statistics for 1991, infant and child mortality can be related to such other variables as occupation of father or mother, education of father or mother, family income, race, ethnicity, and residence. The evidence shows that, although there have been large absolute reductions in the level of infant and child mortality rates and also a reduction in the absolute levels of differences across socioeconomic groups, relative inequality has not diminished over the 20th century.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael R. Haines, 2010. "Inequality and Infant and Childhood Mortality in the United States in the Twentieth Century," NBER Working Papers 16133, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16133
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Samuel H. Preston & Michael R. Haines, 1991. "Fatal Years: Child Mortality in Late Nineteenth-Century America," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number pres91-1, January.
    2. Hicks, Norman & Streeten, Paul, 1979. "Indicators of development: The search for a basic needs yardstick," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 7(6), pages 567-580, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Dora L. Costa, 2015. "Health and the Economy in the United States from 1750 to the Present," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 53(3), pages 503-570, September.
    2. Bengtsson, Tommy & van Poppel, Frans, 2011. "Socioeconomic inequalities in death from past to present: An introduction," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 48(3), pages 343-356, July.

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    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • N12 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-


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