Correlation between GDP Per Capita and Infant Mortality


The following chart plots Infant Mortality on the x-axis (number of infant deaths per 1000 live births) against the GDP per capita on the y-axis, for all countries shown in the previous table. Please take a look and see if you agree with my remarks.

Each dot represents one country. For example, USA is shown at the very top because its coordinates are: on the y-axis $30,200 = GDP per capita, and on the x-axis 6.44 = Infant Mortality. The red continuous line shows an approximation of the "average" countries in this correlation. Countries (dots) which are way above this red line pay too little attention to the issues that lead to infant deaths, according to the wealth of those countries. On the other hand, countries which are well below the red line should worth to be congratulated: they manage to have fewer infant deaths according to their financial abilities. Now let us examine more closely those maverick countries.

I've put labels to the points (countries) that to me seem to be deviating most from the average. At the upper part we have the countries U.A.E. (United Arab Emirates), Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Libya. Do you see the connection? They are all oil-producing countries. Apparently petroleum-dollars can serve other purposes in these countries, but probably not health-improvement issues. In addition, we have Malaysia and Thailand in the same area of the chart. The economies of these two countries have grown fast in the recent years, maybe a bit too fast for the people there to notice any lack of attention to fundamental issues.

The red dot next to Libya is supposed to be the "world". It is there, way above the average line, because the line is only an average of dots in this chart, while the world-red-dot is the true average over all countries, many of which are not included in the chart. Some of these countries have large populations (e.g., Pakistan, Bangladesh, and many African nations), low GDP per capita, and large index for Infant Mortality, hence the world's dot is shifted in the "deteriorated" part of this chart. To put it differently, the data of this chart show the optimistic, "good face" of the world.

What about the countries well-below the average line? Take a look at their names: Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, FYROM, and Boznia-Herzegovina. Put them together, and you get back precisely the ex-Yugoslavia (before disintegration)! Now, what could that mean? Have they found the magic recipe over there saving their infants from doom, even when money is not available? Being a balcan myself, I would tend to look with some suspicion at those numbers. If the data is right, others should learn what the secret is.

One last remark. Does the USA-dot (top) seem to you to follow the average? To me it seems rather far, on the pooh-pooh side of the chart. If it was average (according to the country's wealth), infant mortality in the USA should be around 3.00, an absolute lowest value. Instead, it stands at 6.44! USA might look like neither Kuwait, nor Malaysia, but it is a country of extremities. Go figure. (I can point at the oddity, but I don't think I can formulate a persuasive answer.)


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