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Parent Education Level

Parent education is often a significant predictor of socioeconomic status, and therefore, a predictor of high child survival rates. A mother’s education significantly reduces the risk of infant mortality for the first child but not for others. A mother’s education has the greatest effect when she has her first child because it improves her decision making and affects her ability to create a healthy environment for the entire family. A father’s education reduces infant mortality for subsequent children, but not the first. This, in part, is due to the fact that education is a measure of the family’s socioeconomic status; the lower the wealth, the higher the risk of mortality, particularly in the modern world.25 Researchers also note that new interventions, such as better health care, tended to increase the inequality between mothers with higher education and those with none, but living in the same community, because the interventions initially would reach those who were already thriving.

The case of Afro-Brazilians is one example that demonstrates how racism can affect mortality, despite education. Although both Afro-Brazilians and whites have enjoyed significant improvements to living conditions, particularly with respect to health care, white children have experienced an unchanged 6.6 year advantage since the 1950s. (After Nigeria, Brazil has the largest African origin population of any nation; a result of the slave passage to North America.) Even though there are disparities between black and white mothers’ education in Brazil, when controlling for this factor, mortality rates are still higher among blacks than whites.26

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