Globalization, Democracy, and Child Health in Developing Countries

Reprint No. 2015:39

Author(s): Anna Welander, Carl Hampus Lyttkens and Therese NilssonYear: 2015 Title: Social Science & Medicine Volume (No.): 136-137 (July) Pages: 52–63
Online article (restrictions may apply)
Preliminary version

Good health is crucial for human and economic development. In particular poor health in childhood is of utmost concern since it causes irreversible damage and has implications later in life. Recent research suggests globalization is a strong force affecting adult and child health outcomes. Yet, there is much unexplained variation with respect to the globalization effect on child health, in particular in low- and middle-income countries. One factor that could explain such variation across countries is the quality of democracy. Using panel data for 70 developing countries between 1970 and 2009 this paper disentangles the relationship between globalization, democracy, and child health. Specifically the paper examines how globalization and a country's democratic status and historical experience with democracy, respectively, affect infant mortality. In line with previous research, results suggest that globalization reduces infant mortality and that the level of democracy in a country generally improves child health outcomes. Additionally, democracy matters for the size of the globalization effect on child health. If for example Côte d’Ivoire had been a democracy in the 2000–2009 period, this effect would translate into 1200 fewer infant deaths in an average year compared to the situation without democracy. We also find that nutrition is the most important mediator in the relationship. To conclude, globalization and democracy together associate with better child health in developing countries.

Welander, Anna, Carl Hampus Lyttkens and Therese Nilsson (2015), "Globalization, Democracy, and Child Health in Developing Countries". Social Science & Medicine 136-137(July), 52–63.

Therese Nilsson


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