Macro-Economic Shocks and Infant Survival: A Global Perspective

Sarah Baird, University of California, Berkeley
Jed Friedman, World Bank Group
Norbert Schady, World Bank Group

If income is protective of health, then deviations from anticipated national income may have important ramifications for population health, including child survival. We utilize Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) data from 59 low- and middle-income countries to investigate the co-variation of trend-deviations in per capita GDP and infant mortality. Through the use of time-series and non-parametric regression techniques we identify the effect of macro-economic contractions on IMR and we find that there is a strong, significant, and statistically robust relationship between fluctuations in GDP per capita and IMR. These findings persist even after controlling for changes in the annual composition of birth mothers. We further explore how the severity of the contractions mediate the impact on child survival and find that the most harmful impacts occur for very large and negative deviations from expected national income. We then investigate the substantial cross-country heterogeneity in this relationship to draw policy implications.

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Presented in Session 61: Poverty and Health: Implications for Mortality and Disability