Black-White Differences in Maternal Age, Maternal Birth Cohort, and Period Effects on Infant Mortality in the U.S. (1983-2002)

Daniel A. Powers, University of Texas at Austin

We investigate three interrelated sources of change in infant mortality rates over a 20 year period using the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) linked birth and infant death cohort files. The effects of maternal age, maternal birth cohort, and time period of childbirth on infant mortality are estimated using a modified age/period/cohort (APC) model that identifies age, period, cohort effects. We document black-white differences in the patterning of these effects. We find that maternal age effects follow the predictable U-shaped pattern, net of period and cohort, but with a less steep gradient in the black population. The largest relative maternal age-specific disparity in IMR occurs among older African American mothers. Cohort effects, while considerably smaller than age and period effects, present an interesting pattern of a modest decline in IMR among later cohorts of African American mothers coupled with an increasing IMR among the same cohorts of non-Hispanic whites.

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Presented in Session 202: Infant Health and Mortality in the United States