Continuing Conversation... Emily Oster on Infant Mortality
By Amy Willis
EconTalk host Russ Roberts welcomes back University of Chicago’s Emily Oster in this episode, in which they discuss the differences in infant mortality rates across nations, as well as the challenges and opportunities afforded by health data.
Check Your Knowledge:
1. How are infant mortality rates calculated, and what difficulties arise in comparing these rates across countries?
2. What do higher rates of infant mortality generally suggest about a nation’s economy? What reasons does Oster posit for the higher rates of infant mortality in the United States as compared to other countries, such as Finland? To what extent do you find her suggestions plausible?
3. Oster notes that higher standards of living correlate with lower levels of infant mortality. What can the history of industrialization tell us about the difference we see in infant mortality rates today? Are you optimistic or pessimistic about infant mortality rates in the United States relative to other developed countries moving forward?
4. Oster says that the higher rates of infant mortality in the US are relatively concentrated. In what ways are they concentrated, and what are some of the suggestions Oster offers to reduce these relatively higher rates? What would you suggest? Is this an economic or political problem (or neither)? Explain.