Socioeconomic status and infant mortality among Hispanics in a southwestern city.

J. S. Levin, K. S. Markides

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Abstract

Recent investigations of infant mortality in the Southwest part of the US have shown that Spanish surname infant death rates are lower than might be expected from the relatively low socioeconomic standing of the Spanish surname population, a phenomenon that appears to be confined to the neonatal componont of the infant mortality rate. The relationship between socioeconomic status (ses) and infant mortality is examined overall and separately within the Anglo and Spanish surname populations of Corpus Christ, Texas. The investigation utilizes data from the 36 Nueces County census tracts. Most recent data on infant, neonatal, and postneonatal mortality was provided by the local health department. Subjects were limited to Anglos and those whites with at least 1 Spanish surname parent. The 1979-1983 cohort is analyzed. Information from the 1980 US census was utilized to divide the 36 census tracts into 3 SES groups: high, medium and low. The most immediately striking aspect of the findings is the significant inverse gradient in Anglos between SES and both the total infant mortality rate (IMR) and the neonatal mortality (NMR), a gradient which is nonexistent in the Spanish surname population as well as overall. In addition, Anglos and Spanish persons differ significantly with respect to all IMRs and NMRs. In the high and medium SES groups and overall, all Anglo rates are lower, while in the low SES group, Spanish surname rates are lower. These findings suggest that, among Anglos, SES is a crucial factor in infant deaths, whereas, among the Spanish surname population, having a medium or high SES does not offer any additional protection against mortality. Alternatively, lower SES does not translate into significantly lower infant mortality among Spanish persons. These findings provide support for the study's hypotheses that the SES-infant mortality association is weaker among Spanish persons than among Anglos. The analysis also shows the importance of analyzing the SES-infant mortality association separately by ethnicity. Studies in larger cities and also studies utilizing matched birth and death records are needed to further elaborate these findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-64
Number of pages4
JournalSocial biology
Volume32
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Mar 1 1985

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science

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