Land Use and Infant Mortality: Evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
All data have been collected from the World Bank. In all models, we included country fixed effects, year fixed effects, and country-time trend interactions to control for unobserved factors across thirty countries and time periods from 1990 to 2012. We use Generalized Linear Models (GLMs) to examine the effects of agricultural land on infant mortality. Agricultural land (independent variable) refers to the share of land area that is arable, under permanent crops, and under permanent pastures. Infant mortality (outcome variable) is defined as the number of infants dying before reaching one year of age, per 1,000 live births in a given year. Our covariates include: (i) GDP per capita; (ii) immunizations for measles; (iii) fertility rate; (iv) female labor force participation; (v) HIV prevalence; (vi) undernourishment rate; (vii) anemia prevalence among pregnant women; (viii) food production index; and (ix) population density. Both our independent and dependent variables, as well as all of the covariates are continuous.
Our findings overall suggest that an increase in land use is predicted to reduce infant mortality; the results are significant throughout all model specifications. Including country fixed effects, year fixed effects, and country-time trend interactions, as well as all covariates, our results indicate that a ten-percent increase in the share of arable land is predicted to reduce infant mortality by 11% (p=0.000) in thirty countries in Sub-Saharan African and South Asian countries from 1990 to 2012. An 11% decrease in infant mortality means a reduction in the infant death rate from 10 to 8.9 per 1,000 live births. We then examine the two continents separately. In nineteen Sub-Saharan countries, our results show that a ten-percent increase in the share of arable land is predicted to reduce infant mortality by 9% (p=0.000). In contrast, in eleven South Asian countries, the effects are only 7% (p=0.012). Comparing the coefficients across continents, the difference in the effects of arable land is not statistically significant. However, the larger effects of land found in Sub-Saharan Africa are worth discussing and therefore will be further addressed in our presentation.
Finally, after discussing several important research challenges, we conclude with policy implications for a long run plan that may help increase land productivity and reduce infant mortality in these fast developing Sub-Saharan African and South Asian countries.