Cross-State Differences in the Processes Generating Black–White Disparities in Neonatal Mortality

Benjamin Sosnaud , Trinity University

The neonatal mortality rate for black infants is twice that of white infants. To better understand this dramatic disparity, the black-white gap in neonatal mortality can be decomposed based on two generating-mechanisms: 1) disparities due to racial differences in the distribution of birth weights, and 2) those due to differences in birth weight-specific mortality. In this paper, I utilize this distinction to explore how the social context into which infants are born contributes to gaps in neonatal mortality between blacks and whites. Drawing on linked infant birth and death records from 1995-2002, I first provide evidence that the magnitude of the black-white gap in neonatal mortality varies across 38 states. For each state, I then calculate the relative contribution of differences in birth weight distribution versus differences in birth weight-specific mortality to disparities in neonatal mortality between whites and blacks.

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 Presented in Session 59. Causes of Neonatal, Infant, and Child Mortality