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From Health Affairs: Child mortality lower when women hold office in Brazil

Health Affairs

Philipp Hessel from the Alberto Lleras Camargo School of Government at the University of the Andes and coauthors analyzed the association between woman political empowerment and child mortality rates in Brazil for 2000-15, finding that higher representation of women at local, state, and federal levels of decision making leads to reductions in child mortality. Researchers found that electing either 10-19 percent or 20 percent or more women to the federal Chamber of Deputies leads to a reduction in child mortality of 0.038 percentage points and 0.072 percentage points, respectively. At the state level, electing 20% or more women to the respective state legislature reduces child mortality by .038 percentage points. Localities with female leadership also reported higher-than-average participation in social programs that expand primary care, and electing a female mayor was associated with a 0.042 percentage points increase in conditional cash benefits coverage to vulnerable families. This research suggests that electing female leaders decreases under-five mortality--a key focus of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals--by emphasizing social service offerings and increasing enrollment in existing governmental public health efforts.

Also in the issue:

Tackling Social Determinants Of Health Around The Globe, an interview with Professor Sir Michael Marmot by Health Affairs Editor-in-Chief Alan Weil. A renowned thinker, leader, researcher, and author on health equity in England and across the world, Marmot has led research groups on health equity for more than forty years.


Health Affairs is the leading peer-reviewed journal at the intersection of health, health care, and policy. Published monthly by Project HOPE, the journal is available in print and online. Late-breaking content is also found through, Health Affairs Today, and Health Affairs Sunday Update.

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Project HOPE is a global health and humanitarian relief organization that places power in the hands of local health care workers to save lives across the globe. Project HOPE has published Health Affairs since 1981.

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