Us Infant Mortality and the President's Party

Posted: 5 Nov 2013

See all articles by Javier Rodriguez

Javier Rodriguez

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor

John Bound

University of Michigan; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Arline T. Geronimus

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - School of Public Health

Date Written: November 5, 2013

Abstract

Background: Infant mortality rates in the US exceed those in all other developed countries and in many less developed countries, suggesting political factors may contribute.

Methods: Annual time series on overall, white and black infant mortality rates in the US were analyzed over the 1965-2010 time period to ascertain whether infant mortality rates varied across presidential administrations. Data were de-trended using cubic splines and analyzed using both graphical and time series regression methods.

Results: Across all nine presidential administrations, infant mortality rates were below trend when the President was a Democrat and above trend when the President was a Republican. This was true for overall, neonatal, and postneonatal mortality, with effects larger for postneonatal compared to neonatal mortality rates. Regression estimates show that, relative to trend, Republican administrations were characterized by infant mortality rates that were, on average, three percent higher than Democratic administrations. In proportional terms, effect size is similar for US whites and blacks. US black rates are more than twice as high as white, implying substantially larger absolute effects for blacks.

Conclusions: We found a robust, quantitatively important association between net of trend US infant mortality rates and the party affiliation of the president. There may be overlooked ways by which macro-dynamics of policy impact micro-dynamics of physiology, suggesting the political system is a component of the underlying mechanism generating health inequality in the United States.

Suggested Citation

Rodriguez, Javier and Bound, John and Geronimus, Arline T., Us Infant Mortality and the President's Party (November 5, 2013). 2014 National Conference of Black Political Scientists (NCOBPS) Annual Meeting. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2350275

Javier Rodriguez (Contact Author)

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor ( email )

500 S. State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
United States

John Bound

University of Michigan ( email )

611 Tappan Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1220
United States
313-998-7149 (Phone)
313-998-7415 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Arline T. Geronimus

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - School of Public Health ( email )

109 S. Observatory
M5142 SPH II
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2029
United States
(734) 763-7379 (Phone)
(734) 936-0929 (Fax)

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