Infant Mortality In India: District - Level Variations and Correlations
Presenter: Shruti Kapoor, University of California, Riverside
This paper examines the correlates of infant mortality in India using district-level data from the 1991 and 2001 Census of India. While infant mortality rates have dropped across districts over this ten year period, there still remains a lot of heterogeneity across districts and hence across the states. Using a panel dataset of 666 districts, the analysis seeks to determine which of socio and or economic factors play an important role in reducing infant mortality rates. In our empirical work, the explanatory variables used are male and female literacy, male and female labor force participation, the level of poverty, urbanization and other socio-economic variables. We use quantile regression analysis to determine which of these factors impact infant mortality. Quantile regression is preferred over OLS because it allows us to estimate models for the conditional median function, and the full range of other conditional quintile functions and therefore provides a more complete statistical analysis of the stochastic relationship among random variables. The analysis brings out the powerful influence on infant mortality of women’s characteristics, especially literacy and labor force participation. Increases in both of these variables significantly reduce child mortality at the district level. Improvements in male laborers in non-agricultural work and reductions in poverty also reduce child mortality, but their quantitative impact is weak in comparison. Further the non-parametric analysis reinforces the results found in the parametric section. They indicate that the action or the impact of the covariates is strongest in the districts which lie in the center of the distribution, rather than those at the extreme. This analysis allows us to determine in which districts the impact of additional target policies would yield the greatest reduction in infant mortality.
JEL Classification: C23, J13, I12
Authors: Shruti Kapoor
Room: No.3 Hall