New Population Indicators of Mortality: Maternal-Oriented Measures of Infant and Under-Five Mortality

Emily Smith-Greenaway , University of Southern California
Jenny Trinitapoli, University of Chicago

The IMR and U5MR have declined dramatically over the last century. These reductions, however, may poorly reflect how the affected populations experience the phenomenon of infant/child death. In this study, we execute a simple exercise: we reconfigure the IMR and U5MR to index not the rate of mortality for live births but the rate at which mothers experience each. We calculate maternal-oriented mortality indicators for 20 African countries over a 30-year period. Results show: the prevalence of mothers who lose an infant/child is substantially higher than the IMR and U5MR suggest; losing an infant/child is the modal reproductive experience in some regions of select countries; and mothers’ exposure to infant/child death can increase even as the IMR and U5MR decrease. Our study offers a new standard to quantify the public health threat of child bereavement and to empirically capture the salience of high-mortality conditions for women’s demographic behavior.

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 Presented in Session 109. Measurement Challenges and Innovations in Infant and Child Health and Mortality