Macro-Contextual Influences on Social Inequalities in Child Mortality in Developing Countries

Jason Beckfield, Harvard University
Ben Sosnaud, Harvard University

Comparative research on social inequalities in health has demonstrated that inequalities vary greatly across contexts, but questions remain about what specific contextual factors are associated with “steeper” and “flatter” mortality gradients. We use data from the Demographic and Health Survey to answer two questions about contextual influences on mortality. First, do societies with better population health (as indicated by lower child-mortality rates) also exhibit higher levels of health inequality? Second, do societies with less inequality in educational attainment (as indicated by the expansion of formal schooling systems) also exhibit lower levels of health inequality? Our analysis, based on data from 2003-2007 on 38 DHS countries, shows that there is little evidence of a trade-off between the national child mortality rate and inequalities in child mortality deriving from the educational attainment of the mother. Our analysis also shows that more-encompassing educational systems are associated with lower education-based inequalities in child mortality.

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Presented in Session 49: Place Effects on Mortality