Honors Capstone Project
Date of Submission
Arts and Science
Capstone Prize Winner
Won Capstone Funding
Economics | Other Economics | Social and Behavioral Sciences
Background and Purpose: The maternal mortality rate in the United States is uncharacteristically high for a developed nation. Despite a concerted effort to participate in decreasing maternal mortality rates internationally as part of the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals, the United States has failed many of its mothers when it comes to positive maternal health outcomes. The quality of health care in the United States is comparable to other developed nations, suggesting that the unusually high maternal mortality rate is not due to physician error and lack of proper physician techniques and rather due to social variables. There are many broad analyses of social causes of mortality but few investigations into associations between maternal mortality and general social variables.
Methods: Cross-sectional data of ten states in 2016 was collected to be analyzed in this investigation. The states were indexed by geography, total population, per capita state health care expenditure, and political affiliation of the Electoral College in 2016. Data was collected from various databases including the Census Bureau. States were given numerical identification and analyzed in STATA using an ML-Random Effects model with the panel variable “State ID”.
Results: The social variables Male/Female Ratio, Education Level (Less than High School and High School Graduate or Equivalent), and Percent Uninsured were all statistically significant in the ML-Random Effects model used to represent the data. Specifically, women able to gain some high school education and higher percentages of women covered by health insurance caused the maternal mortality rate to decrease in this model. The variables for Median Income and Average Age of Mother were not reported as significant based on this model.
Conclusions: Access to education and health insurance are two social variables that are associated with maternal mortality. These variables can be manipulated through economic policy to increase access to education and access to health insurance, which in turn will lead to more positive health outcomes for women giving birth in the United States. There is a need currently to reevaluate funding for public education and commit to invest in public education as a social tool to combat maternal mortality. Further, the health insurance system in the United States needs to be examined through cost-benefit analysis to better understand shortcomings in the system and focus energy, time, and money on these areas to specifically facilitate women entering health care facilities for prenatal through postnatal care.
Whellan, Alexis, "Understanding Maternal Mortality in the United States" (2019). Syracuse University Honors Program Capstone Projects. 1108.
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Available for download on Thursday, July 16, 2020