148873 Democracy and child mortality: Can we claim causality?

Monday, November 5, 2007: 8:30 PM

John Doces, PhD , School of International Relations/School of Policy, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
The purpose of this paper is to study the impact of democracy on child mortality. Some studies indicate democracy decreases infant mortality while other research indicates there is no impact from democracy on child mortality. This paper reconciles these conflicting results: While democracy does not directly influence child mortality it does, however, indirectly influence it by increasing female literacy. In this sense, democracy acts as a catalyst to lowering child mortality and can within certain bounds be thought of as a causal determinant of child mortality. To test this hypothesis a cross-section multivariate regression analysis of a broad sample of less developed countries is employed utilizing data from the World Health Organization. The regression results indicate that in a bivariate regression model democracy lowers child mortality, but when female literacy is added to the regression the impact of democracy disappears and becomes statistically insignificant. Complementing the regression results, several case-study comparisons illustrate the impact of democracy on female literacy and through female literacy the cases highlight the indirect impact of democracy on child mortality. The primary policy implication is that developing and deepening democracy abroad should target the development of public goods closely associated with democracy, like female literacy, as this will help to mitigate high levels of child mortality.

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the relationship between political institutions and child mortality. 2. Identify the indirect mechanism by which political institutions contribute to lower child mortality. 3. Recognize that the market underprovides public goods like female literacy and that democratic institutions will help develop these public goods that lead to reductions in child mortality.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No
Any institutionally-contracted trials related to this submission?

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.