Good news on child mortality

September 11th, 2009 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

NZ have announced:

The UN Children’s Fund today released new figures that show the rate of deaths of children under five years of age continued to decline in 2008.

The data shows a 28 per cent decline in the under-five mortality rate, from 90 deaths per 1000 live births in 1990, to 65 deaths per 1000 live births in 2008. According to these estimates, the absolute number of child deaths in 2008 declined to an estimated 8.8 million from 12.5 million in 1990; the base line year for the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

“Compared to 1990, 10,000 fewer children are dying every day,” says UNICEF’s New York-based Executive Director Ann M. Veneman. “While progress is being made, it is unacceptable that each year 8.8 million children die before their fifth birthday.”

3.7 million less children dying every year is no small thing.

The data shows global under-five mortality has decreased steadily over the past two decades, and that the rate of the decline in the under-five mortality rates has increased since the 1990s. The average rate of decline from 2000 to 2008 is 2.3 percent, compared to a 1.4 percent average decline from 1990 to 2000.

A good trend.

In some countries, progress is slow or non-existent. In South Africa the under-five mortality rate has actually gone up since 1990.

A bad trend.

I was interested in the changes in each country. Not easy to find, but eventually got it on page 118 of this report.

China’s mortality rate has dropped from 45 to 22 deaths per thousand and India from 117 to 72. These two countries are significant for having opened their economies up and enjoying record economic growth. It shows the benefits of a wealthier society due to .

I estimate 1.6 of the 3.7 million fewer under five deaths comes from China and India alone.

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11 Responses to “Good news on child mortality”

  1. Jim (406 comments) says:

    Interesting to note that at least one of the countries with the lowest U5MR (half that of NZ) has a user-pays health system and no social welfare system. Seems to contradict what the NZ govt has been saying for the past 10 years – that govt spending is the only way.

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  2. homepaddock (434 comments) says:

    Not sure how trustworthy these figures are. The official number of deaths in the wake of the Sanlu scandal are probably much lower than the actual ones.

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  3. MT_Tinman (3,055 comments) says:

    Why is more people in this already overpopulated world good news?

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  4. Sam Buchanan (502 comments) says:

    “These two countries are significant for having opened their economies up and enjoying record economic growth.”

    China’s still a heavily regulated and restrictive economy with large amounts of state-intervention. The boom has been built on decades of state-funded construction of infrastructure. Poster boy for free trade it ain’t.

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  5. Repton (769 comments) says:

    Gapminder is a fabulous tool for exploring statistics like this. For example, here is infant mortality versus income for a few countries. Go to the site and then click “Play” to watch change over time.

    Some things that are interesting to see:
    – NZ has data going back further than most countries.
    – Mortality rates only really started come down after WW2.
    – China and India have been getting richer faster than their mortality rates has been decreasing.
    – Cuba’s mortality rate has dropped steadily (equal NZ, better than US) even though inflation-adjusted incomes are still almost where they were 50 years ago.

    Also, if you’ve got a spare 20 minutes, this is an amazing video on stats of the third world vs the first world. Don’t let the word “stats” put you off — if you’re reading this site, you will enjoy the video.

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  6. David Farrar (1,874 comments) says:

    It is not as free (or as wealthy) as western countries, but the correlation between their economic growth and their expanding private sector has been huge.

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  7. Brian Smaller (4,028 comments) says:

    Why is more people in this already overpopulated world good news?

    Run your self a nice bath and take a razor blade, and contribute to some good news then.

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  8. Jeff83 (771 comments) says:

    It also shows the largest crippling factor on Africa, a natively agricultural nation, is the inability to export its products on fair terms due to the EU, and US tarrifs and subsidies. They would do allot more benefit in giving up giving aid and moving to finish the WTO talks in a fair manner. However doubt this will ever happen, they have already got what they wanted.

    This is one of the few areas I actually agree with the Republicans in.

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  9. Kris K (3,570 comments) says:

    I wonder how these same figures would look if we added in-womb terminations to the live birth figures?

    For example, in New Zealand’s case:

    2003 Under five mortality rate (per 1000 live births): 6.00
    http://globalis.gvu.unu.edu/indicator_detail.cfm?IndicatorID=26&Country=NZ

    Abortions 2003: 18511
    Equates to: 247 per 1000 known pregnancies
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abortion_in_New_Zealand#Abortion_Supervisory_Committee
    Thus overall pregnancies 2003: 74943
    Thus overall live births 2003: 56432

    Thus Under five mortality rate (per 1000 pregnancies) 6.00 + 247 = 253.00

    So therefore even though the Under five mortality rate (per 1000 live births) is only 6.00
    the Under five mortality rate (per 1000 pregnancies) is in fact 253.00

    Now that is a statistic to be truly ashamed of.

    I wonder how other western nations compare to the emerging economy nations when given the same treatment?

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  10. MT_Tinman (3,055 comments) says:

    Brian Smaller (1666) Vote: Add rating 5 Subtract rating 2 Says:
    September 11th, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    Why is more people in this already overpopulated world good news?

    Run your self a nice bath and take a razor blade, and contribute to some good news then.

    A good christian answer.

    Well done.

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  11. getstaffed (9,189 comments) says:

    MT_Tinman, Nothing to do with Christianity. Odd that you should introduce that sidetrack. You suggested that fewer humans would be good. Fair enough. Brian is simply asking, albeit a little tongue-in-cheek, why it should that be helpless infants that make the sacrifice when you are so much better equipped to both grasp the significance of, and to implement, your own?

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