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Inequality and Infant and Childhood Mortality in the United States in the Twentieth Century

By Michael R. Haines


This paper deals with the issue of using infant and childhood mortality as an indicator of inequality. The case is that of the United States in the 20th century. Using microdata from the 1900 and 1910 Integrated Public Use Microsamples (IPUMS), published data from the Birth Registration Area in the 1920s, results from a number of surveys, and the Linked Birth & Infant Death Files from the National Center for Health Statistics for 1991, infant and child mortality can be related to such other variables as occupation of father or mother, education of father or mother, family income, race, ethnicity, and residence. The evidence shows that, although there have been large absolute reductions in the level of infant and child mortality rates and also a reduction in the absolute levels of differences across socioeconomic groups, relative inequality has not diminished over the 20th century.

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