Beyond GDP? Life Expectancy and Stillbirths by Chander Kant :: SSRN

We highlight recent data on stillbirths, discount life expectancy at birth (LEB) for stillbirths, and suggest discounted LEB be used as an element in measuring well-being. Information on stillbirths in all countries has been available since 2006; and that on neonatal and infant mortality since 1990. Using data from The Lancet and World Bank, we redefine stillbirth rate consistently with neonatal and infant mortality, and show its incidence is quite close to neonatal mortality’s; and for high and upper middle income countries, it is higher. Overtime, the reduction in the two rates for low income countries is smaller than for high income from their already very low rates. Recent stillbirth data for all countries has been ignored by economists and social scientists. We suggest stillbirths be estimated annually by the same Inter-Agency Group that estimates neonatal and infant mortality. Almost as many live births do not survive beyond the first day as the intra-partum stillbirths. On grounds that stillbirths lie on a continuum between premature births and neonatal mortality where only the latter are included in the LEB, we suggest a parallel measure, discounted LEB, be developed. Discounting LEB for stillbirths will make it a better measure of health, reduce the neglect of the malaise of stillbirths, show how far the poor countries truly have to travel to capture the perceived low-hanging fruit of catching-up with high income countries’ life expectancy level, and lead to a better beyond GDP measure of well-being.

Source: Beyond GDP? Life Expectancy and Stillbirths by Chander Kant :: SSRN

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