Aim

As one of the Millennium Development Goals and part of the newer 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals, infant mortality rate (IMR) was and still is a pressing global problem. Approximately 2.6 million babies die before turning 1 month old every year, mostly due to preventable causes (UNICEF, 2018), however, the major drivers are not fully understood. It is known that countries with lower GDP have higher IMR (Baird, 2011), but this does not explain the whole story. This proposal aims to investigate the other factors most associated with the infant mortality rate in the Southeast Asia region that could potentially be identified and utilized to find policies to reducing the IMR. The aspects that will be focused on besides economic elements are nutritional factors such availability of breast milk and access to healthcare such as postnatal health check as these are important context that should be considered alongside economic factors (Acuin, 2011) & (Jayachandran, 1986). These factors are chosen because also these data are widely available through trustworthy sources allowing for accurate and simple preliminary cross-country analysis.

Question and Problem

Which factors beside economic indicators correlate with infant mortality rates, specifically focusing on nutrition and Pregnancy care.

Location and Grain

The analysis is focused on Southeast Asia, specifically the 10 ASEAN member countries: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Laos, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Methods

The data for the analysis was retrieved from the World Bank for the GDP and GDP per capita data, while IMR data and other related information was retrieved from UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children 2016 Statistical Tables. Correlation tests using Pearson’s product moment correlation coefficient were done as preliminary tests to see which variables correlate with IMR. Then linear regressions were performed on the variables that has been deemed to have an association.

Results

Infant mortality rates in almost all the ASEAN countries decreased over the 15 year period between 1990 and 2015 partly due to the global initiatives, such as the MDG, to reduce the IMR.

GDP

IMR negatively correlates with GDP and GDP per capita as expected, but surprisingly, these correlations were not significant. These could be due to the differing source of data, World Bank and UNICEF, but may also be due to the small sample size and the significant progress in reducing IMR in the ASEAN countries whilst GDP did not experience the same force. Outliers like Indonesia and Singapore may also have a contribution.