Why Were Infant and Child Mortality Rates Highest in the Poorest States of Peninsular Malaysia, 1941-75?

by Christine E. Peterson, Khairuddin Yusof, Julie DaVanzo, Jean-Pierre Habicht

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From 1941 through 1975, infant and child mortality rates were higher in the poorest states than in the other states of Peninsular Malaysia. This Note investigates possible reasons for those higher rates, using household-level data that document infant and child mortality and their correlates. The results indicate that the higher average infant mortality rate (IMR) in the four poorest states over the 1941-1975 period can be explained by such factors as poorer sanitation and the lesser incidence of hospital births. However, the major factor is the difference in ethnic composition between the two regions — Chinese in Malaysia having a far lower IMR than Malays, and there being a smaller proportion of Chinese in the four states studied.

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