Which State Policies Explain Racial Disparities in U.S. Infant Health?

Laura Prichett, Johns Hopkins University

In this paper, we examine the change in disparities between black and white infant mortality rates in different states using state policies and economic circumstances. Of paramount importance is the academic debate as to the influence of economic development on African American populations as compared to their white counterparts. We use infant mortality and policy data from the 50 U.S. states to detect changes in the relationships between black/white infant mortality rate ratios and various attributes of the states for the period 1994-2002. The relationships are also examined using race as an interaction term in a series of multivariate fixed effects models. We find that economic growth improved infant mortality among the white population, but not among the black population, and this is causing increased racial disparity in infant mortality. Positive state policies in the areas of health were correlated with a reduced disparity in post neonatal mortality.

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Presented in Poster Session 6