IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Infant Mortality During Economic Downturns and Recovery


  • Ronald Mendoza

    (Division of Policy and Practice,UNICEF)

  • Nicholas Rees

    (Division of Policy and Practice,UNICEF)


This paper reviews the empirical literature on the impact of economic downturns on infant mortality. Drawing on this, it examines the possible impact of the presently unfolding global economic slowdown. While there is scope for further improving our understanding of the links between economic trends and infant mortality, the available empirical evidence does suggest that children face grave risks if the social impact of the global slowdown is unmitigated. There is also a risk that the global slowdown could undermine recent progress in reducing infant mortality. The analysis and evidence underscore several key areas for policy responses: a) providing humanitarian relief, including health and nutrition interventions to the most hard-hit and vulnerable groups; b) expanding social protection to the poorest and most vulnerable; and c) resuscitating growth in a way that is pro-poor and ensures that the recovery of household incomes—notably among the poor and low income households—is robust and sustained. The main message of this paper for policymakers is that, based on empirical evidence on past crises, the possible impact of the present crisis on infant mortality is nothing that cannot be mitigated by policies that protect children and women and ensure sufficient social investments in the first place.

Suggested Citation

  • Ronald Mendoza & Nicholas Rees, 2009. "Infant Mortality During Economic Downturns and Recovery," Working papers 0904, UNICEF,Division of Policy and Strategy.
  • Handle: RePEc:uce:wpaper:0904

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Quisumbing, Agnes R., 2003. "Food Aid and Child Nutrition in Rural Ethiopia," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 31(7), pages 1309-1324, July.
    2. Bengtsson, Niklas, 2010. "How responsive is body weight to transitory income changes? Evidence from rural Tanzania," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(1), pages 53-61, May.
    3. Abhijit Banerjee & Esther Duflo & Gilles Postel-Vinay & Timothy M. Watts, 2007. "Long Run Health Impacts of Income Shocks: Wine and Phylloxera in 19th Century France," NBER Working Papers 12895, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Christina Paxson & Norbert Schady, 2005. "Child Health and Economic Crisis in Peru," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 19(2), pages 203-223.
    5. Emanuela Galasso & Martin Ravallion, 2004. "Social Protection in a Crisis: Argentina's Plan Jefes y Jefas," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 18(3), pages 367-399.
    6. Sarah Baird & Jed Friedman & Norbert Schady, 2011. "Aggregate Income Shocks and Infant Mortality in the Developing World," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(3), pages 847-856, August.
    7. Bhalotra, Sonia, 2010. "Fatal fluctuations? Cyclicality in infant mortality in India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(1), pages 7-19, September.
    8. Jalan, Jyotsna & Ravallion, Martin, 2003. "Does piped water reduce diarrhea for children in rural India?," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 112(1), pages 153-173, January.
    9. Frankenberg, E. & Thomas, D. & Beegle, K., 1999. "The Real Costs of Indonesia's Economic Crisis: Preliminary Findings from the Indonesia Family Life Surveys," Papers 99-04, RAND - Labor and Population Program.
    10. de Janvry, Alain & Finan, Frederico & Sadoulet, Elisabeth & Vakis, Renos, 2006. "Can conditional cash transfer programs serve as safety nets in keeping children at school and from working when exposed to shocks?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(2), pages 349-373, April.
    11. Ferreira, Francisco H. G. & Schady, Norbert, 2008. "Aggregate economic shocks, child schooling and child health," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4701, The World Bank.
    12. Ariel Fiszbein & Norbert Schady & Francisco H.G. Ferreira & Margaret Grosh & Niall Keleher & Pedro Olinto & Emmanuel Skoufias, 2009. "Conditional Cash Transfers : Reducing Present and Future Poverty," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 2597, June.
    13. Rajkumar, Andrew Sunil & Swaroop, Vinaya, 2008. "Public spending and outcomes: Does governance matter?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(1), pages 96-111, April.
    14. Friedman, Jed & Schady, Norbert, 2009. "How many more infants are likely to die in Africa as a result of the global financial crisis ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5023, The World Bank.
    15. Barham, Tania, 2011. "A healthier start: The effect of conditional cash transfers on neonatal and infant mortality in rural Mexico," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(1), pages 74-85, January.
    16. Ronald U. Mendoza, 2011. "Why do the poor pay more? Exploring the poverty penalty concept," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 23(1), pages 1-28, January.
    17. World Bank, 2008. "Global Economic Prospects 2008 : Technology Diffusion in the Developing World," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 6335, June.
    18. Lawrence Haddad & Harold Alderman & Simon Appleton & Lina Song & Yisehac Yohannes, 2003. "Reducing Child Malnutrition: How Far Does Income Growth Take Us?," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 17(1), pages 107-131, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Ronald Mendoza & Ronald, 2010. "Inclusive Crises, Exclusive Recoveries, and Policies to Prevent a Double Whammy for the Poor," Working papers 1004, UNICEF,Division of Policy and Strategy.
    2. Edit V. Velenyi & Marc F. Smitz, 2014. "Cyclical Patterns in Government Health Expenditures Between 1995 and 2010," Health, Nutrition and Population (HNP) Discussion Paper Series 87885, The World Bank.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:uce:wpaper:0904. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Maria Clara Osorio). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.