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psc brown bag iconImprisonment and Infant Mortality

Christopher Wildeman (School of Public Health, University of Michigan)

10/05/2009, at noon in room 6050 ISR-Thompson.

This talk considers the effects of imprisonment on infant mortality using data from the United States, 1990-2003. Results using state-level data show consistent effects of imprisonment rates on infant mortality rates and Black-White inequality in infant mortality rates. Estimates from these models suggest that had the American imprisonment remained at the 1973 level -- the year considered the beginning of the prison boom--the 2003 infant mortality rate would have been 5.1 percent lower, and absolute Black-White inequality in the infant mortality rate would have 23.3 percent lower. Results using individual-level data from the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) show that recent parental incarceration elevates early infant mortality risk, that effects are concentrated in the ostneonatal period, and that abuse moderates the relationship. Notably, results suggest that parental incarceration elevates the risk of infant death 29.6 percent for the average child in the sample. Taken together, results indicate that imprisonment has consequences for population health and inequality in population health and should be considered when assessing variation in health across nations, states, and individuals.


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