Infant Mortality and Social Demography

Running head: GEOGRAPHY









Infant mortality is significantly influenced by social demographics of a population or a country. For instance, the level of infant mortality in developed countries cannot be compared with that in the developing countries such as those in Africa and some parts of Asia. This difference is also associated with the income of the countries, that is, for developing countries, the income is very low compared to the developed countries hence the difference in infant mortality. This means that most of the residents of these countries have low incomes. Some of the social factors that are closely associated with infant mortality include age of mother, marital status, multiple births, father’s social class and the country of birth of mother (Caselli, Vallin & Wunsch, 2005). Infant mortality due to geographical variations has also been observed in the 20th century. However, the reductions are unevenly distributed and this is believed to be due to the distributions of social class. This paper will focus on social demographic and other geographic influences on infant mortality in developed countries.

The geographical influences in infant mortality in developed countries can be explained using the case of England and Wales. Where from the 1900 to 1960s the infant mortality rates in England were lower compared to those in Wales, however, England had a higher mortality rate by the 1990s compared to Wales (Norman, Gregory, Dorling & Baker, 2008). From the 19th century, infant mortality rates have been high particularly in the mining and urban areas as compared to the rural areas. Areas such as North West England and Yorkshire had had infant mortality rate of 20.3 and 20.2 per every 1000 live births respectively. This is in comparison to areas such as East of England and South East England which had infant mortality rate of 15.0 and 14.7 respectively (Stillwell, 2010). This was attributed to the housing density and adverse living conditions in these areas. For instance, there were high infant mortality rates in 1991 through 1997 that were concentrated in the major urban areas such as Birmingham, London and Manchester. During the 1990s the manufacturing centers had the highest infant mortality rates, however lower rates were noted in the most prosperous growth areas as well as rural locations (Norman, Gregory, Dorling & Baker, 2008). Consistently over time, the highest infant mortality rates in the countries of the UK were found in the most deprived areas such as Caerphily and Rhyl in Wales while the least deprived areas had the lowest rates such as East and South East England.

The geographical influences of infant mortality sometimes intertwine with the social influences. For instance low birth weight which is a social risk factor is closely associated with deprived areas. Despite the tremendous reductions in the rates of infant mortality in England and Wales, recent reports and statistics have shown variations in the rates of infant mortalities in different geographical locations (Norman, Gregory, Dorling & Baker, 2008). The high rates of infant mortalities in the more deprived areas of England Wales may be due to various social factors such as very high rates of teenage pregnancies, people of low social class due to low income and low birth weight babies (Woods, 2000). Another social factor that is closely associated to the deprived areas in regard to high infant mortality rates is health. This is due to the fact that health as well as health related behaviors such as poor hygiene in more deprived areas tend to be poor. It is also less common to find a range of facilities or resources that promote health in poor areas.

The infant mortality rates can be categorized into early and late neonatal and post neonatal mortality rates, that is, deaths after 28 days. In the UK during the late 20th century, there was a relatively steady decrease in neonatal rates at the national level. However, the decline in post neonatal rates was much lesser (Kulig & Williams, 2011). Social class variations in the rates of infant mortality have been found to be very wide in the post neonatal period compared to the early neonatal period. Although infant mortality rates declined even in the more deprived areas, the hugest declines were experienced in areas where the deprivation eased. At the national level, the infant mortality rates have fallen rapidly from 11.1 deaths per 1000 live births in 1980s to 5.0 in 2006 (Norman, Gregory, Dorling & Baker, 2008).

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