Industrialized Countries - Progress and Disparity

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Child death rates plummet

Death rates of children and youth in industrialized countries are low, and one might think there is little room for improvement. Yet mortality rates among children under 20 in industrialized countries have fallen dramatically in recent decades. Death rates for girls and boys in 1993 are less than half what they were in 1970.

Nonetheless, boys continue to die, on average, at a rate about 50% higher than girls: Boys' rates fell from 184 per 100,000 in 1970 to 84 in 1993, while girls' declined during the same period from 126 per 100,000 to 57. Boys die at higher rates than girls in all industrialized countries.

The disparity in boys' and girls' death rates is highest in Portugal, where the rate for boys in 1993 was 72% higher than for girls. Israel has the smallest disparity, with the boys' rate 25% greater.

There are significant disparities among countries. Romania has the highest combined mortality rates: 179 deaths per 100,000 population for boys and 127 per 100,000 for girls. Japan has the lowest rates: 54 deaths per 100,000 for boys and 35 for girls.

Most of the decline in death rates among under-20s occurred among children under 5, mainly the result of improved health care. Death rates for ages 15-19 (boys and girls) declined by about half the under-5 rate. Most of the older boys' deaths are caused by accidents, such as car crashes, falls and firearm mishaps.

Boys' death rate surpassing girls'
  Deaths per 100,000 population age 0-19, 1993 % decline in mortality rate, 1970-93 % by which male rate exceeds female rate 1993
  Male Female Male Female  
Israel 80 64 - - 25
Greece 71 51 69 72 39
Sweden 57 41 52 48 39
Netherlands 66 47 53 50 40
Bulgaria 137 97 45 46 41
Hungary 106 75 61 62 41
Romania 179 127 60 65 41
United Kingdom 68 48 60 60 42
Germany 65 45 - - 44
Switzerland 69 48 58 56 44
Denmark 71 49 51 47 45
Poland 113 78 52 54 45
Australia 73 49 61 62 49
Canada 73 49 57 57 49
United States 104 69 45 45 51
New Zealand 102 67 45 46 52
Finland 61 40 56 54 53
France 72 47 56 58 53
Japan 54 35 67 68 54
Spain 71 46 - - 54
Austria 82 53 65 66 55
Norway 70 45 53 51 56
Czech Rep. 90 57 - - 58
Russian Fed. 181 110 - - 65
Portugal 115 67 - - 72

Source: UNICEF, based on data from WHO.

 

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