Social Indicators Research

, Volume 52, Issue 3, pp 215–234

The determinants of Infant Mortality in the Less Developed Countries: A Cross-National Test of Five Theories

  • R. Scott Frey
  • Carolyn Field

DOI: 10.1023/A:1007093631977

Cite this article as:
Frey, R.S. & Field, C. Social Indicators Research (2000) 52: 215. doi:10.1023/A:1007093631977


The infant mortality rate varies widely across theless developed countries. Five macro-social changetheories exist that can explain the variation of theinfant mortality rate across the less developedcountries: modernization theory,dependency/world-systems theory, gender stratificationtheory, economic disarticulation theory, anddevelopmental state theory. Although research supportsthe claims of each theoretical narrative, no singlestudy examines all five narratives simultaneously oris based on recent data. The purpose of the researchreported here was to fill this gap in the literatureby examining the simultaneous effects ofindustrialization, four alternative measures ofeconomic dependence, female educational attainment,economic disarticulation, state strength, and acontrol variable, Sub-Saharan African status, on theinfant mortality rate for 59 less developed countriesin 1991. Results of eight tests of the fivetheoretical narratives indicate thatindustrialization, state strength, and three of thefour measures of economic dependence have little neteffect on infant mortality, whereas economicdisarticulation, female education, debt dependence,and Sub-Saharan African status have the expectedeffects on infant mortality. Theoretical and policyimplications of the results are briefly discussed.

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. Scott Frey
    • 1
  • Carolyn Field
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminal JusticeUniversity of North FloridaJacksonvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Sociology and AnthropologyUniversity of New HampshireDurhamUSA

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