Global infant mortality: initial results from a cross-country infant mortality comparison project

Rebecca Anthopolos, Duke University
Charles Becker, Duke University

The United Nations Millennium Development Goals have highlighted the usefulness of the infant mortality rate as a measure of progress in improving neonatal health care services, and more broadly as an indicator of basic health care overall. However, prior research has shown that infant mortality rates can be underestimated dramatically, depending on a particular country’s live birth criterion, vital registration system, and reporting practices. These problems are especially great for perinatal mortality. This study seeks to assess infant mortality undercounting for a global dataset using an approach popularized in economics some three decades ago, when researchers sought to create internationally comparable, purchasing power parity-adjusted per capita income measures. Using a one-sided error, frontier estimation technique, it is possible to recalculate rates based on estimated parameters to obtain a standardized infant mortality rate and concurrently to derive a measure of likely undercount for each nation.

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Presented in Session 90: Indirect methods of demographic estimation: new techniques for new realities