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Soc Sci Med. 2004 Jul;59(2):321-33.

Dependency, democracy, and infant mortality: a quantitative, cross-national analysis of less developed countries.

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Department of Sociology, Boston College, McGuinn Hall, 140 Commonwealth Avenue, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467-3807, USA. shandra@bc.ed


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, social modernization, political modernization, and dependency perspectives. The study is based on a panel regression analysis of a sample of 59 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: 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.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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