Maternal Health is a Confounder in the Relationship between Maternal Education and Child Mortality

Emre S Ozaltin, Harvard School of Public Health
Kenneth Hill, Harvard University

The education of mothers has been consistently linked to the risk of mortality of their children. The relationship however is complicated by reverse causalities between income, education, and health. Health of mothers as a possible determinant of child mortality has received little attention to date. It may impact the mortality of children indirectly through education and income or directly through biological mechanisms. We analyze DHS data from 10 countries, pooled and separately controlling for secular trends, to look at the effect of maternal health, proxied by measured height, on child mortality. We find that the health of the mother is an important determinant of the subsequent mortality of her children and is a confounder in the relationship between mother’s education and child mortality. This finding further emphasizes the importance of early life factors not only in the subsequent health of a woman but extending to the health of her children.

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Presented in Session 154: Infant and Child Mortality II