What Explains the Rural-Urban Gap in Infant Mortality - Household or Community Characteristics?
TI Discussion Paper No. 07-067/3
46 Pages Posted: 29 Aug 2007
Date Written: August 2007
The rural-urban gap in infant mortality rates is explained using a new decomposition method that permits identification of the contribution of unobserved heterogeneity at the household and the community level. Using Demographic and Health Survey data for six Francophone countries in Western Sub-Saharan Africa, we find that differences in the distributions of factors that determine mortality - not differences in their effects - explain almost the entire gap. Higher infant mortality rates in rural areas mainly derive from the rural disadvantage in household level characteristics; both observed and unobserved, which explain three-quarters of the gap. Among the observed characteristics, household environmental factors - potable water, electricity and quality of housing materials - are the most important contributors explaining 38% of the gap. Unobserved household level determinants explain 10% of the gap. Community level determinants explain 13% of the gap, including 3% that is due to unobservable community level heterogeneity.
Keywords: Sub-Saharan Africa, rural-urban inequality, infant mortality, decomposition, unobserved heterogeneity
JEL Classification: I12, I31, O53
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