Volume 42 - Article 8 | Pages 203–244  

Urban–rural differentials in Latin American infant mortality

By Jenny Garcia


Background: Infant mortality in Latin America has declined dramatically over the past six decades. The health transition in the region began in the main cities and has tended to proceed more rapidly in countries with higher levels of urbanization. Although urban–rural mortality differentials have consistently favoured cities, these gaps vary significantly across countries, subpopulations, and geographical areas.

Objective: I aim to analyse, first, urban–rural infant mortality trends in seven Latin American countries during the period 1980 to 2010 and, second, whether or not an urban penalty has emerged in the region.

Methods: I estimate IMR by distinguishing urban–rural areas and cities according to their size. Yearly rates are produced using a semi-parametric regression model. The model summarizes and predicts IMR trends based on: (1) indirect estimation methods used on 19 censuses conducted in 1990, 2000, and 2010; (2) vital statistics data; and (3) official estimates.

Results: A convergence of urban–rural IMR is found in most of the countries due to a period of accelerated improvements in lagging subpopulations. The subpopulation differential increases in relative terms only for Brazil and Colombia.

Conclusions: There is no evidence that an urban penalty exists in Latin American infant mortality. By analysing cities according to their size, it is possible to see that improvements have followed the urbanization process, with not only urban areas but the main cities retaining the greatest advantages in infant mortality decline.

Contribution: I have demonstrated the benefits of analysing the urban–rural gap through a continuum approach (by grouping cities according to size) to track the path of urban advantages in Latin American infant mortality.

Author's Affiliation

Most recent similar articles in Demographic Research

Decomposition analysis of disparities in infant mortality rates across 27 US states
Volume 50 - Article 40    | Keywords: decomposition, health disparities, infant mortality, United States of America

The big decline: Lowest-low fertility in Uruguay (2016–2021)
Volume 50 - Article 16    | Keywords: adolescent fertility, birth order, fertility, Latin America, ultra-low fertility, Uruguay

The question of the human mortality plateau: Contrasting insights by longevity pioneers
Volume 48 - Article 11    | Keywords: age, France, Gompertz mortality, mortality, mortality plateau, older population, parametric models, supercentenarians, survival analysis, trajectories

Adolescent fertility and high school completion in Chile: Exploring gender differences
Volume 47 - Article 31    | Keywords: adolescent fertility, Chile, education, gender, Latin America, propensity score, selectivity

How do mothers work? Kin coresidence and mothers' work in Latin America
Volume 45 - Article 30    | Keywords: family, household structure, Latin America, maternal employment, work

Cited References: 94

Download to Citation Manager


Google Scholar

Article ID