Why is Infant Mortality Higher in the US than in Europe?
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.
We thank Franz Bilek, Anita Mikulasek, and Ursula Shuster for assistance in accessing the Austrian data; and Gissler Mika, Irmeli Penttilä, and Arto Vuori for assistance in accessing the Finnish data. We gratefully acknowledge comments from Dan Fetter, Amy Finkelstein, Michael Greenstone, Amanda Kowalski, Doug Miller, and seminar participants at Brown University, the NBER Health Care meeting, MIT, Northwestern University, UCLA, University of Chicago, University of Michigan, Stanford, and Wharton; research assistance from Toby Chaiken, Hailey Nguyen, and Sophie Sun; and financial support from the Neubauer Family (Oster), NIA Grant Number T32-AG000186 to the NBER (Williams), and NSF Grant Number 1151497 (Williams). The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
- The U.S. infant mortality rate (IMR) compares unfavorably to that of other developed countries, ranking 51st in the world in...
Chen, Alice, Emily Oster, and Heidi Williams. 2016. "Why Is Infant Mortality Higher in the United States Than in Europe?" American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, 8 (2): 89-124.