Explaining Racial Differences in Child Mortality in South Africa

Sarah A. Burgard, University of Michigan
Donald J. Treiman, University of California, Los Angeles

Child health and survival in South Africa were deeply influenced by the imposition of the apartheid state in 1948, a system of institutionalized discrimination against Nonwhites in all areas of life that remained in place until 1994. Using household-level data from 1998 linked to community-level indicators, we estimate piecewise exponential regression models with shared frailty to show how specific aspects of apartheid, including racial inequality in opportunities for socioeconomic advancement, racial residential segregation into different geographic areas, and migrant labor have created or exacerbated existing racial disparities in children's survival chances in the aftermath of apartheid. We conclude that differences in the kinds of communities in which black children and other children are raised are important determinants of child survival, but are best reflected in the supply of infrastructure that directly affects household environmental conditions, in this case, the supply of water and sanitation.

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Presented in Session 165: Child Health in Developing Countries