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Health Care Financ Rev. 1992 Summer;13(4):105-18.

International infant mortality rankings: a look behind the numbers.

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Urban Institute, Washington, DC 20037.


The very unfavorable infant mortality ranking of the United States in international comparisons is often used to question the quality of health care there. Infant mortality rates, however, implicitly capture a complicated story, measuring much more than differences in health care across countries. This article examines reasons behind international infant mortality rate rankings, including variations in the measurement of vital events, and differences in risk factors across countries. Its goal is to offer a broader context for more informed debate on the meaning of international infant mortality statistics. These statistics offer opportunities to identify strategies for improving the U.S. health care system and learn from other countries that have been more successful.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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