Infant Mortality Strongly Linked to Years of Women’s Education
By: Caroline Melhado
A decrease in infant mortality is strongly correlated to an increase in women’s education. A review of census and national surveys of the past forty years, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, found that infant mortality rates declined 7-9% with every additional year of education women obtained in a country.
Secondary reports from 175 countries were reviewed to find the mean years of education in women and infant mortality during the years 1953 to 2008. Confounding variables such as HIV seroprevalence and income were taken into account in calculating the correlation of education to infant mortality. Researchers found that education during this time period has greatly increased, while the infant mortality has decreased. However 46 countries still have a mean of less than 6 years of education for women in 2008. Not surprisingly, these countries also have high rates of infant mortality. The pattern remained true across the spectrum, for countries with the highest rates of education for women had the lowest rates of infant mortality.
This strong correlation between women’s education and infant mortality should spur education advocates and Millennium Development Goal supporters. While many herald the economic impact of education for a developing nation, education can also strongly affect the health of a population as well.