An Analysis of Infant Mortality Rates in the U.S

By Sommers, Paul M. | Atlantic Economic Journal, December 2004 | Go to article overview

An Analysis of Infant Mortality Rates in the U.S


Sommers, Paul M., Atlantic Economic Journal


For individual groups and nations, there is abundant evidence of a strong quantitative association between measures of economic status and a variety of health outcomes, such as mortality and morbidity [J.P. Smith, Journal of Economic Perspectives, Spring 1999]. When the reference group is a U.S. state, economic resources and health risk behaviors, such as smoking, are no less important predictors of infant mortality rates (defined as the number of deaths in the first year of life compared with the number of live births).

A regression of 50 statewide average infant mortality rates (IMR) [Health, United States, 2002, Table 24] against the same three-year average (1998-2000) percent of people in poverty by state (POV) [Poverty in the United States: 2000, Table D], the percentage of women who smoke cigarettes in each state (SMOKERS), the percentage of African Americans by state (BLACK) [Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2002, Tables 185 and 22, respectively], and three dummy variables employed to capture regional differences produced the following results:

IMR = 3.072 + 0.075 POV + 0.083 SMOKERS + 0.075 BLACK
      (3.75) (1.97)      (2.50)           (4.91)

      +0.586 WEST + 1.231 MIDWEST + 0.951 SOUTH
        (1.83)      (4.08)          (2.57),

[[bar.R].sup.2] = .698

where t-ratios are in parentheses.

The results, in general, show a strong positive association between poverty rates and infant mortality rates (p = .056). The poor lack access to a consistent source of care and likely use fewer physician services. …

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An Analysis of Infant Mortality Rates in the U.S
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