International Infant Mortality Rankings: A Look Behind the Numbers

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


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.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Canada
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison
  • Data Collection / standards*
  • Europe
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Mortality*
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Japan
  • Maternal Age
  • Pregnancy
  • Quality of Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States