Women's Schooling behind Infant Survival. Modeling Demographic Dynamics in Non-Affluent Countries

Saturday, July 19, 2014: 12:45 PM
Room: 418
Oral Presentation
Mikko PERKIÍ , School of Social Sciences and Humanities, University of Tampere, University of Tampere, Finland
Mikko Perkiö


Women’s Schooling behind Infant Survival

Modeling Demographic Dynamics in Non-Affluent Countries

This paper examines the critical relationship between women’s education and infant mortality.  This relationship is a key to the demographic transformation of the global South. .  This quantitative study examines the relationship between female education and infant survival in 80 developing countries. It is found that the relationship between women’s schooling and infant survival is shaped by a set of social and health-related variables.  These variables have been rarely studied simultaneously. Evidence in the paper is drawn from datasets some of which have only recently became available from agencies including UNICEF, UNDP and UNESCO. The data is controlled by income level, population size, as well as by the extreme epidemic or political instabilities. Missing data is replaced by regional averages. The path-models on infant survival provide new estimates showing the extent to which women’s education influences infant survival in the global South. The study presents new evidence that the most powerful societal covariates determining the relationship between infant mortality and women’s schooling, are income poverty, child health services and breastfeeding. Women’s education explains 30-40% of the cross-country variation of infant survival.  A key finding is that influences outside the health sphere improve health practices and performance. This global update is in line with what smaller N country-studies and survey based community studies have shown. The results stress that the universal social policies including women’s education, poverty alleviation and multiple health policies intersect in fundamental ways for better infant survival.  And that universal social policies are fundamental in explaining the pattern of demographic transition in the global South.