Skip to main content

Premature baby in hospital, hooked up to wires.
Does the party of the president influence infant mortality? Infant mortality in the United States has dropped over the past 80 years, though it remains embarrassingly high when compared with other advanced nations. But a group of researchers has found a correlation with the president's party—and guess what it is:
What Rodriguez and colleagues investigate is whether, relative to this broader trend, infant mortality rates are higher under Republican or Democratic presidential administrations. Drawing on data from 1965 to 2010, they find that infant mortality is, on average, 3 percent higher under Republican administrations (again, relative to the trend). This is after accounting for other factors that could also affect infant mortality, such as trends in education attainment, the unemployment rate, and economic inequality.
Now, this is just one finding and as we know, correlation does not equal causation. But it's ... interesting. Especially when you consider other, similar correlations, like how private-sector jobs grew more under Democratic than Republican presidents between 1961 and 2012. Like I say, it's interesting.

Originally posted to Laura Clawson on Fri Feb 14, 2014 at 07:37 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  we at least know that more war-mongering occurs (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rudewarrior, Roadbed Guy, Ojibwa, splashy
    Now, this is just one finding and as we know, correlation does not equal causation. But it's ... interesting

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013 (@eState4Column5).

    by annieli on Fri Feb 14, 2014 at 08:04:00 AM PST

  •  It's a reach (1+ / 0-)

    I looked at the original paper.  Here is a graph showing the infant mortality trends:

    US infant mortality and the President’s party

    Just based on an eyeball examination, I sure do not see much here that supports the researchers' hypothesis.  It's very hard to estimate changes in the rate of change when the overall trend is consistently declining.

    Here is a commentary published in the journal by Ralph Catalano, a professor of public health at UC Berkeley with an expertise on population stressors for gestation, with a focus on fetal death as an outcome.

    Political epidemiology, Republican presidents and dog food

    His critique is highly statistical, though he faults the authors for a lack of a coherent causal theory.  His analysis of the flaws of this study is a good one.

    I don't doubt that Republicans are bad for peoples's health.  I just don't think this is very convincing.

    •  It's a pretty simplistic (0+ / 0-)

      approach. It would be more useful to look at trends associated with changes in employment and programs, e.g. cuts or increases in WIC or food stamps for example.

    •  Those graphs are the logarithm of the death rates (0+ / 0-)

      I think that would make the differences less obvious to look at.  The paper concludes about 3% difference in infant mortality compared to the trend.  That sounds like a big effect to me.
      Note that they attributed statistics to a given president starting a year after he took office, to give his policies time to take effect.

      We're all pretty strange one way or another; some of us just hide it better. "Normal" is a dryer setting.

      by david78209 on Sat Feb 15, 2014 at 04:36:16 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  True, but it still looks like no effect to me (0+ / 0-)

        Their 3% effect estimate is very dependent on how they modeled the expected values of the curve.  If you read Catalano's commentary, you may  agree that their assumptions and methods for estimating a difference in the observed data vs. what it would have been had there been no effect may not have been the best way to do it.  

  •  For every dead baby (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    How many are compromised by injuries and illnesses that could have been prevented with good pre-natal and post-natal care? Why do we accept a high rate of prematurity? Death is the extreme worst outcome, but it's a disgrace that children suffer a lifetime of disability for lack of care an support when they need it.

  •  Sorry (0+ / 0-)

    You're not going to see a clear answer here, as the results would be skewed by time lag, the composition of Congress, etc. A clearer study was conducted concerning Great Britain and suicide. The results were irrefutable and frankly shocking. I recommend this link:
    Though it gives the results for Australia rather than for Britain you need to read less than a paragraph. The figures, especially for women, will make even the most jaded liberal gasp.

  •  I'm curious... (0+ / 0-)

    is infant mortality higher under republican governors or Democratic governors?

    What about the percentage of women who die in childbirth?

    Shop Liberally this holiday season at Kos Katalog

    by JamieG from Md on Fri Feb 14, 2014 at 11:15:13 AM PST

  •  It is much higher in republican states... (4+ / 0-)

    Bring me the head of Geraldo Rivera.

    by old mark on Fri Feb 14, 2014 at 04:50:56 PM PST

  •  Wow.. Really Bad Form to Bring This Up (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    the child poverty rate the last few years has gone right thru the freaking ceiling... skyrocketing.

    so the notion great things are happening for children under a democratic POTUS is a total farce.

    "It is essential that there should be organization of Labor. Capital organizes & therefore Labor must organize" Theodore Roosevelt

    by Superpole on Sat Feb 15, 2014 at 04:05:30 PM PST

  •  Make sure to show this statistic (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    david78209, rhauenstein

    to every anti-choice person you know. Overturning Roe vs. Wade will NOT save the lives of any babies but voting to put people in charge of government who actually care about the health and welfare of the mother actually will.

    I'm staunchly pro-choice even if I'm personally anti-abortion precisely because of statistics like this.

    Why do I have the feeling George W. Bush joined the Stonecutters, ate a mess of ribs, and used the Constitution as a napkin?

    by Matt Z on Sat Feb 15, 2014 at 04:07:52 PM PST

  •  I must say that after seeing my grand daughter (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    historys mysteries

    in the NICU. Pictures like the one above hurt me.
    Make me sad. Thank goodness for new born screening which identified her has having Cystic Fibrosis.
    But that was not diagnosed till after two weeks later.  One ignorant nurse chastised my daughter with, "What are you eating!"

  •  Can't believe you're talking about this, Laura (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mayfly, Icicle68

    I just did a piece on this last night for another publication. Here's an excerpt:

    I get charts and graphs from all over the place, but the once below are created using OECD data -- considered the most reliable in the world. Most national governments use OECD data for comparison purposes.

    The charts below compare the wealthiest nations in the world and pertain to health and infant mortality in the rich nations:

    1.  Infant mortality 2013

    Inline image 1

    2. Life Expectancy at Birth 2011

    Inline image 2

    3.  Rich nations that provide health care to all the citizens, 2011. Note: The three that do not provide this human rights are at the bottom, however Mexico has, since 2011, has achieved national health care for all citizens:

    Inline image 3

    4.  Physicians per 1000 persons, 2011.
    Note:  The US, unlike most wealthy nations, to not invest in education for physicians, so Americans are less healthy in general.

    Inline image 4

    5.  Consultations with Doctors, 2011.
    Note:  Americans are deprived from such consultations by lack of funding for education and lack of universal health care..

    Inline image 5

    6.  Hospital beds for full recuperation and caring for the sick, 2011.

    Inline image 6

    7.  Average length of stay and care in hospitals 2011.
    Note:  Americans are kicked out of hospitals quickly and have a shorter lifespan than citizens of other rich nations.

    Inline image 7


    The OECD Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development is the most reliable data statistics service in the world -- turning 50 years old this year. It is used by both the UN and the US government. They are the publishers of hundreds of demographic papers and books used throughout the world.

    They describe their mission:

    The OECD provides a forum in which governments can work together to share experiences and seek solutions to common problems. We work with governments to understand what drives economic, social and environmental change. We measure productivity and global flows of trade and investment. We analyse and compare data to predict future trends. We set international standards on a wide range of things, from agriculture and tax to the safety of chemicals.

    We look, too, at issues that directly affect the lives of ordinary people, like how much they pay in taxes and social security, and how much leisure time they can take. We compare how different countries’ school systems are readying their young people for modern life, and how different countries’ pension systems will look after their citizens in old age.

    •  I realize this pushes the perspective out (0+ / 0-)

      …to levels of global shame.

      On state-by-state demographics, it's as you would expect. The poorer is human (thus the less health care) the more likely their baby will die.

      It's not rocket science.

      On a map, they may look like states with high populations of blacks or hispanics -- but there are too many anomalies to make the case. It comes down to the sheer number who are denied health care because they don't have the dough to pay for it.

  •  So you could call Democrats PRO LIVE LIFE (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    historys mysteries

    Now they have the 2nd (safety net for sloppy) Amendment, and can't be infringed to actually treat their gun like a gun and not a video game controller.

    by 88kathy on Sat Feb 15, 2014 at 04:24:32 PM PST

    •  Errrrrr... So it's Fine and Dandy (0+ / 0-)

      to have numerous children living in poverty after they are born? because that's what is happening right now... the U.S. has an extremely high child poverty rate.

      "It is essential that there should be organization of Labor. Capital organizes & therefore Labor must organize" Theodore Roosevelt

      by Superpole on Sat Feb 15, 2014 at 04:36:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  PRO LIFE, LIVE, LIVING (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        historys mysteries

        I am not here be perfect. I am here to say something that might inspire someone to say something better.

        It is really hard for me to ignore your smart ass

        Errrrrr  ---- so it's fine and dandy
        But for the sake of the party, I'll think you didn't mean it in my whiny grandchild's 5 yo high pitched voice.

        Now they have the 2nd (safety net for sloppy) Amendment, and can't be infringed to actually treat their gun like a gun and not a video game controller.

        by 88kathy on Sat Feb 15, 2014 at 06:23:05 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  That's a lot of pro-life death n/t (0+ / 0-)
  •  Let's just face it. Babies are takers. (snark) (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    historys mysteries

    The right of the women of this State to be secure in their persons against unreasonable searches shall not be violated by the State legislature.

    by Mayfly on Sat Feb 15, 2014 at 04:28:40 PM PST

  •  Only fetuses have a right to life. After you (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    historys mysteries

    hit the air, you're on your own.


    "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

    by Lily O Lady on Sat Feb 15, 2014 at 04:47:02 PM PST

  •  It would be irresponsible not to speculate..... (0+ / 0-)
  •  Republicans demand that all children (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    historys mysteries

    that are conceived are born. I've never heard any concern about what happens afterward.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site