Trends and Racial Differences in Infant Mortality in South Africa

Racial differences in infant mortality in South Africa are studied using household-level data from 1987 to 1989 and 1998. Logistic regression models are estimated to explore the determinants of the overall trend in infant mortality and racial disparities in infants' survival chances. We do not find evidence for reduced overall risk of infant death among births that occurred from 1993 to 1998 when compared to those that occurred from 1982 to 1989, despite policy and action directed toward this goal by the new government that was elected in early 1994. We also find that persistent inequalities in the personal and household resources of South Africa's four main racial groups substantially account for racial differences in infant survival rates in both periods. These findings are discussed in light of contemporary social and health issues in South Africa.