Education, Birth Weight, and Infant Mortality
Timothy B. Gage, University at Albany, State University of New York (SUNY)
Erin O'Neill, University at Albany, State University of New York (SUNY)
Fu Fang, University at Albany, State University of New York (SUNY)
Howard Stratton, University at Albany, State University of New York (SUNY)
This research determines if the declines in infant mortality with increased education are due to “indirect” effects that operate through improved birth weight or to birth weight independent “direct” effects. The data used are the US national linked birth death files, African, and European American cohorts, 2001. Education is dichotomized as completing 12th grade or less. The analysis is conducted using Covariate Density Defined mixtures of logistic regression, which considers “normal” and “compromised” births separately. Among “normal” births, mean birth weight increases significantly with education, 88 to 108 grams. Mortality declines significantly due to “direct” effects of education (by 1.66 to 2.21deaths/1000births). The only significant “indirect” effect occurs in African American females, which increases infant mortality despite improvements in birth weight. No consistent birth weight or mortality effects occur among “compromised” births. These results are consistent with the view that birth weight is not on the causal pathway to mortality.