Survival of Progeny in Developing Countries

An Analysis of Evidence from Costa Rica, Mexico, East Pakistan, and Puerto Rico

by Frank A. Sloan

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Sources of variation in infant and preschool child mortality in developing countries are currently inadequately understood, yet child mortality has a direct impact on fertility and population growth. To the extent that health in childhood contributes to labor productivity in adulthood, economic growth is also affected. This report measures the relative importance of factors contributing to regional variations in death rates of children under 5 years of age in four developing countries, using existing data and regression analysis, and specifies factors that merit more intensive investigation. Among the determinants of child mortality, it is shown that female literacy and nutrition definitely have an impact on mortality of children less than 5 years old. The roles of female labor force activity and medical care emerge less clearly. Sanitation variables and variables that characterize the housing stock of a region explain none of the variation in mortality rates.

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