Social factors and public policies associated with state infant mortality rates

Academic Article


  • Despite mounting evidence that social factors and public policies affect state infant mortality rates (IMRs), few researchers have examined variation in IMRs associated with those factors and policies. We quantified disparities in infant mortality by state social factors and public policy characteristics. We hypothesized that some social factors and public policies would be more strongly associated with infant mortality than others, and that states with similar factors and policies would form clusters with varying levels of infant mortality. We examined associations of women’s economic empowerment, health and well-being, political participation, reproductive rights, and work and family-related policies with state IMRs in 2012 and 2015, using indicators created by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Methods included generalized linear models, principal component analysis, and cluster analysis. Health and well-being predicted IMRs (2012, 2015, both p < .05), as did poverty and opportunity, and reproductive rights (2012, p < .10). Consistent with our hypothesis, states formed clusters, with the states in each cluster having similar social factors and public policies, and similar IMRs. Women’s health status and insurance coverage were more predictive of state IMRs than other social factors. Improving health and insurance coverage may be an effective way to reduce state IMRs.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Wallace LA; Rucks AC; Ginter PM; Katholi CR
  • Start Page

  • 337
  • End Page

  • 344
  • Volume

  • 61
  • Issue

  • 4