Explaining the Impact of Social Policy on Child Mortality: A Cross-country Statistical Analysis and a Case Study of Vietnam

  • Daniel Wilde

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


This thesis examines the impact of social policies on child mortality. It argues that structural factors explain most of the variation in child mortality across countries and time. But that in Vietnam the state implemented effective social policies; leading to this country having low child mortality for its structural factors (income, income equality and women’s power).This thesis uses panel data econometrics to investigate the structural determinants of child mortality. Our model shows that national income and women’s power reduce, and income inequality increases, child mortality. These independent variables are significant at the 1% level and explain over 90% of the variation in child mortality when our dependent variable is under-five mortality from the World Development Indicators dataset. These results are robust to changes in the functional form, lag structure, dataset and measure of child mortality used in our model. Vietnam is an outlier in our model; it has low child mortality for its structural factors. We consider that Vietnam’s effective social policies may explain why it is an outlier.This thesis also undertakes a detailed case study of Vietnam’s social policies. We argue and provide considerable evidence that in Vietnam the government implemented effective family planning, child immunization and female education policies and that these reduced child mortality.Developing countries are currently committed through MDG4 to reducing under-five mortality by two thirds between 1990 and 2015. Our results show that developing countries are unlikely to achieve this goal because social policies have a small impact on child mortality relative to structural factors.
Date of Award31 Jul 2012
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorIan Gough (Supervisor)


  • child mortality
  • social policy
  • Vietnam
  • Millenium development goals

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