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Why history matters for quantitative target setting: Long-term trends in socioeconomic and racial/ethnic inequities in US infant death rates (1960-2010)

Why history matters for quantitative target setting: Long-term trends in socioeconomic and racial/ethnic inequities in US infant death rates (1960-2010)

Journal of Public Health Policy 36(3): 287-303

Policy-oriented population health targets, such as the Millennium Development Goals and national targets to address health inequities, are typically based on trends of a decade or less. To test whether expanded timeframes might be more apt, we analyzed 50-year trends in US infant death rates (1960-2010) jointly by income and race/ethnicity. The largest annual per cent changes in the infant death rate (between -4 and -10 per cent), for all racial/ethnic groups, in the lowest income quintile occurred between the mid-1960s and early 1980s, and in the second lowest income quintile between the mid-1960s and 1973. Since the 1990s, these numbers have hovered, in all groups, between -1 and -3 per cent. Hence, to look back only 15 years (in 2014, to 1999) would ignore gains achieved prior to the onset of neoliberal policies after 1980. Target setting should be informed by a deeper and longer-term appraisal of what is possible to achieve.

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Accession: 059271603

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PMID: 25971237

DOI: 10.1057/jphp.2015.12

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