Democratization and Cross-Country Differences in Infant Mortality Decline in Africa, 1980-2010: Evidence from Time Series Analysis

Moshi O. Herman, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)

There has been a steep decline in child mortality in Africa recently. Improvements in child health indicators in the region happened concurrently with massive political reforms that instituted democracy and incited political stability. There have been speculations that some of the improvements in health can be attributed to the institution reforms, but empirical research connecting the two phenomena is scarce. This paper uses time series data from 53 African countries from 1980 and 2011 to shed light on potential links between democratization and cross country differences in infant mortality rates. Preliminary results from Fixed Effects estimations show democracy (measured by transition to multipartism and Polity2 scores) is associated with faster decline in infant mortality controlling for economic development, fertility, HIV prevalence, and urbanization. The strength of political incumbents and levels of corruption also matter. Further analysis is underway to highlight interactions between democratization and broad measures of political stability.

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Presented in Session 207: Early Life Health and Mortality in the Developing World