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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Dependency, Democracy, and Infant Mortality: A Quantitative, Cross-National Analysis of Less Developed Countries

  • Author(s): Shandra, John M.;
  • Nobles, Jenna;
  • London, Bruce;
  • Williamson, John B.
  • et al.

This study presents quantitative, sociological models designed to account for cross-national variation in infant mortality rates. We consider variables linked to four different theoretical perspectives: the economic modernization, the social modernization, the political modernization, and the dependency perspectives. The study is based on a panel regression analysis of a sample of fifty-nine developing countries. Our preliminary analysis based on additive models replicates prior studies to the extent that we find that indicators linked to economic and social modernization have beneficial effects on infant mortality. We also find support for hypotheses derived from the dependency perspective suggesting that multinational corporate penetration fosters higher levels of infant mortality. Subsequent analysis incorporating interaction effects suggest that the level of political democracy conditions the effects of dependency relationships based upon exports, investments from multinational corporations, and international lending institutions. Transnational economic linkages associated with exports, multinational corporations, and international lending institutions adversely affect infant mortality more strongly at lower levels of democracy than at higher levels of democracy; that is intranational, political factors interact with the international, economic forces to affect infant mortality. We conclude with some brief policy recommendations and suggestions for the direction of future research.

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