Document Type

Article

Publication Date

Fall 12-15-2014

Abstract

On the surface infant mortality is usually thought of as just a unfortunate part of life in what can happen to an individual family, but infant mortality is part of the factors that affect social capital, which can lead back to overall trust in a community. When that trust starts to wither within a community, economic activity will be affected as community members will not behave as they usually do within their given economic boundaries. While social capital is not solely affected by infant mortality, it does show what type of health status an area has. As a community, state, or country becomes “healthier” we usually will see a high quality of life in terms of being able to afford a better lifestyle of all people affected not just a few individuals. “Health is telling us a story about the major influences on the quality of life in modern societies and it is a story which we cannot afford to ignore”. (Wilkinson 1996) How we tie in that health to economic growth is through social capital. Social capital (generalized trust) is positively correlated with GDP growth and is one of many factors in sustaining that growth. (Putnam 1993) A major contribution to that increase in social capital is having a healthy community. Infant mortality has a part of the health component and has a negative correlated effect on GDP growth. Education levels are important factors in reducing infant mortality. Previous authors explored what causes infant mortality to be higher in different regions (i.e. Martinez et al., Song et al. Gisselmann 2005). These authors looked at China, Uruguay, Sweden, and other regions. These authors concluded that education is a main factor, in reducing infant mortality. Gisselmann argues that more years of education is more beneficial for infant mortality rates than higher income levels. This study will look particularly into the United States as a whole, and break down states as individual cross sections. Once it is reestablished with previous literature that infant mortality being reduced is beneficial for the economy, the data itself will look at what reduces infant mortality rates. Each state is thought to have individual characteristics in cultural, religious, social, and other aspects. The study will look into variations of educational attainment levels and income levels. The data will further see within a country whether there is a educational and infant mortality paradox, as well as how much an individual state influences its own infant mortality rate.

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