NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Why is Infant Mortality Higher in the US than in Europe?

Alice Chen, Emily Oster, Heidi Williams

NBER Working Paper No. 20525
Issued in September 2014, Revised in August 2015
NBER Program(s):   AG   CH   HC   HE   PE

The US has higher infant mortality than peer countries. In this paper, we combine micro-data from the US with similar data from four European countries to investigate this US infant mortality disadvantage. The US disadvantage persists after adjusting for potential differential reporting of births near the threshold of viability. While the importance of birth weight varies across comparison countries, relative to all comparison countries the US has similar neonatal (<1 month) mortality but higher postneonatal (1-12 months) mortality. We document similar patterns across Census divisions within the US. The postneonatal mortality disadvantage is driven by poor birth outcomes among lower socioeconomic status individuals.

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A non-technical summary of this paper is available in the 2015 number 1 issue of the NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health. You can sign up to receive the NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health by email.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w20525

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