In the light of the current state of the world economy and the serious economic problems of many developing countries, the need to study possible effects of national economic difficulties - including foreign debt repayment problems - on infant mortality trends is increasingly evident. This study focuses on the experience of the Philippines from 1959 to 1986. The relationship betwen national economic difficulties (as indicated by slow rates of economic growth, high rates of unemployment and inflation, foreign debt problems and export earning instability) and cutbacks in social expenditure on the infant mortality rate (the dependent variable) was investigated using multiple regression analysis. The applicability of the Brenner "economic change" model of an adverse impact of economic instability on the infant mortality rate was also tested. The results indicate that (i) the Brenner model is generalizable to a Southern developing nation such as the Philippines, (ii) the adverse impact of economic instability takes effect more quickly than in richer Northern nations (the time lag is shorter), (iii) growth in real GNP per capita and in real social expenditure per capita are positively associated with reductions in the infant mortality rate, (iv) for a developing nation such as the Philippines, real export earnings is a highly significant but previously unrecognized variable associated with reductions in the infant mortality rate, (v) increases in the foreign debt to export earnings ratio and in the consumer price index do not appear to have an adverse impact on infant mortality. Possible reasons for the unexpected findings in (v) are discussed.
Doctoral dissertation advisors:
Prof. M. Harvey Brenner (Dept. of Health Policy & Management, Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene & Public Health)
Prof. Christopher Chase-Dunn (Dept. of Sociology, School of Arts and Sciences, Johns Hopkins University)
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