United States Has Higher Death Rate Than Most Other Countries

Excerpted from
State of the WORLD’S MOTHERS 2007
Saving the Lives of Children Under 5
Report by Save The Children


Child Deaths in the Developed World

Child Death Rates in the United States

Although the under-5 mortality rate in the United States has fallen in recent decades, it is still higher than many other wealthy nations – 2.3 times that of Iceland and more than 75 percent higher than the rate of the Czech Republic, Finland, Italy, Japan, Norway, Slovenia and Sweden.

The causes of child deaths in the industrialized world differ dramatically from those in developing countries. In the developing world, over half of under-5 deaths are caused by pneumonia, diarrhea or newborn conditions. In the industrialized world, these problems rarely lead to death. Children’s deaths are most likely the result of injury suffered in traffic accidents, intentional harm, drowning, falling, fire and poisoning.225

Throughout the industrialized world, children from poor or disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely to be injured or killed. Factors such as single parenthood, low levels of maternal education, teenage motherhood, substandard housing, large family size and parental drug or alcohol abuse increase the risks that a child will not survive to age 5.226

Children are far more likely to die during the first year of life than they are at older ages. And death rates for males are substantially higher than rates for females for every age group of children.227

In the United States, American-Indian, Alaska- Native and African-American children have the highest death rates.228

Here are some additional facts about child mortality in the industrialized world:


225 UNICEF. A League Table of Child Deaths by Injury in Rich Nations. Innocenti Report Card 2. (UNICEF, Innocenti Research Centre: Florence: 2001) p.3

226 UNICEF. Child Poverty in Perspective:An Overview of Child Well-Being in Rich Countries,” Innocenti Report Card 7. (UNICEF, Innocenti Research Centre: Florence: 2007 ) p.15

227 UNICEF. A League Table of Child Deaths by Injury in Rich Nations. p.2

228 Child Trends DataBank. Infant, Child, and Youth Death Rates, www.childtrendsdatabank.org/indicators /63ChildMortality.cfm and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.“Injury Mortality Among American Indian and Alaska Native Children and Youth – United States, 1989-1998,” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.Vol. 52, No. 30.August 1, 2003. pp.697-701

229 UNICEF. State of the World’s Children 2007. Table 1, p.105

230 Child Trends DataBank. Infant, Child, and Youth Death Rates.

231 Ibid.

232 UNICEF. A League Table of Child Deaths by Injury in Rich Nations. p.4

233 WHO Regional Office for Europe. The European Health Report 2005: Public Health Action for Healthier Children and Populations. (Denmark: 2005) pp.4-5 and Child and Adolescent Health and Development. www.euro.who.int/childhealtdev/infants /20060919_6

Graph source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Health Statistics. Health Data for All Ages. www.cdc.gov/nchs/ health_data_for_all_ages.htm. Rates are three-year annual averages (2000-2003). Data are not available for Vermont.

source (1.9 MB PDF): 27may2007