Effects of Political Ideology on Rates of Infant Mortality




Choi, Won Seok
Ka, Aminata
Sam, Erin


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Background and Objectives: Infant mortality is a large indicator of a nation's health and maternal health outcomes. Prior studies investigated race, education, income, smoking, and the percentage of women legislators as essential factors contributing to infant mortality. We conjecture that state-level political ideology contributes to infant mortality through maternal healthcare policies and funding. Methods: We used the Centers for Disease Control and the US Census Bureau to examine the marginal effect of political ideology on infant mortality. We employed the African American population, Hispanic population, income, smoking rate, maternal education, and percentage of women legislators to control various relative risks following previous studies. The sample covers 11 years of state-level data: 2006 and 2016. We used state-level presidential election results as a proxy for political ideology. We obtained 27 days and 365 days of mortality to investigate the relationship between political ideology and infant mortality. We used various regression analyses, such as OLS, WLS, and 2SLS. Results: All regression analysis results indicate that state-level political ideology has a negative marginal effect on infant mortality, and are all statistically significant. Between the two mortality measures, the effect is stronger with a mortality of 365 days. All control variables are consistent with previous studies. Conclusion: These empirical results suggest that democratic preference contributes to lower infant mortality. We believe a democratic state is more likely to be supportive of maternal-child health. Thus, the marginal effect of political ideology is stronger with the 365 days of infant mortality.