State Economic Status and Racial Disparities in Infant Mortality in the U.S., 1999-2007

Qingfeng Li, Johns Hopkins University
Sai Ma, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Background This paper statistically examined which state policies and characteristics are associated with improvement in the Black-White infant mortality rate ratio. Methods The dependent variables are state-specific infant, neonatal, and postneonatal mortality rate by race, 1999-2007. Independent variables, including state-level population, economics, geography, government, education, health, crime and welfare, came from the “Congressional Quarterly (CQ) State Fact Finder” and CDC’s BRFSS. We used state and year fixed-effects regression models and Chow test. Results Economic status as measured by per capita gross state product (GSP) is significantly associated with lower infant mortality for both whites and blacks; however, it offers significantly more benefit to black infant survival than whites: A 1% rise in GSP is associated with lowered infant mortality rate by 0.39% for whites (p<0.01) and 0.48% for blacks (p<0.01). Conclusions Our findings suggest that the current economic recession would have a bigger impact on black infants than white infants.

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Presented in Poster Session 7