Resolving the Enigma of Infant Mortality Rate in Colombia

Posted: 4 Jul 2012

See all articles by Marta Jaramillo-Mejía

Marta Jaramillo-Mejía

Universidad Icesi

Dov Chernichovsky

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and NBER

José Juan Jiménez-Moleón

University of Granada

Date Written: June 30, 2012


The infant mortality rate (IMR) in Colombia has been subject to considerable inconsistent reporting, estimation, and debate. The registered rate for 2009 is 13.69, while the estimated rate by Colombia’s Departamento Nacional de Estadística (DANE) is 20.13. These rates combined with different measurements and estimates of long-term decline, ranging from 2.5 to 7.5 percent, yield even wider discrepancies in IMR for previous years. Taking advantage of all relevant data that have become available -- including 443,338 deaths (1979-2009) and 8,636,510 birth records (1998-2009) -- we establish the most probable range of IMR in Colombia since 1980, including the period 1988 through 1997 for which data on births is lacking. Using the general relationship IMR=αeβt -- where α is the projected initial level of IMR, and β is the average long term rate of annual decline -- we derive α and β from related estimates of infant deaths and birth per 10,000 women age 15-49. Initial estimates set the boundaries for plausible IMR in Colombia for the period based on the registered, 13.69 and estimated, 20.13, rates for 2009, and long term average rates of decline in IMR between 3.8 and 7.6 percent. A further analysis based on other sources, recent developments in vital registration in Colombia, and relevant international experience, lead to a considerable narrower band of most probable IMR for Colombia based on a the range in IMR between 15.5 to 17.5 IMR in 2009 and average long term rates of decline between 4.0 and 6.0 percent, the lower estimates more likely.

Note: Downloadable document is in Spanish.

Keywords: Infant Mortality Rate, Trends, Vital Statistics, Colombia

JEL Classification: I1, I12, I31

Suggested Citation

Jaramillo-Mejía, Marta and Chernichovsky, Dov and Jiménez-Moleón, José Juan, Resolving the Enigma of Infant Mortality Rate in Colombia (June 30, 2012). Available at SSRN: or

Marta Jaramillo-Mejía (Contact Author)

Universidad Icesi ( email )

Calle 18 #122-135
A.A. 25608

Dov Chernichovsky

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and NBER ( email )

Faculty of Health Sciences
Beer-Sheva 84105
970 0 7 6477421 (Phone)
970 0 7 6477634 (Fax)

José Juan Jiménez-Moleón

University of Granada ( email )

C/Rector López Argueta S/N
Granada, Granada 18071


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