Dynamics of Inequality: Mother’s Education and Infant Mortality in China, 1970-2001

In this study, the authors analyze the dynamic relationship between Chinese women's education, their
utilization of newly available medical pregnancy care, and their infants' mortality risk. China has undergone
enormous social, economic, and political changes over recent decades and is a novel context in which to
examine the potential influence of social change and technological innovation on health disparities. The
authors consider efficacy, or the ability to quickly absorb and effectively utilize new medical innovations,
and argue that the social stratification of efficacy provides an important conceptual link between education
and the greater likelihood of benefitting from medical innovations. Using the 2001 National Family Planning
and Reproductive Health Survey data and multilevel, multiprocess models, the authors show that Chinese
infants born to better educated mothers retained a survival advantage over the turbulent decades between
1970 and 2000. This occurs largely because educated mothers more actively sought prenatal care and
professional delivery assistance use.