Maternal Mortality: Spatial and Racial Disparities in United States
Over the last century, developed countries have been successful in enhancing maternal health and reducing Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR). By 2018, MMR across OECD countries and World Bank Group Regions have converged towards very low levels, averaging more than 5 deaths per 100,000 live births. The United States has become an outlier among the developed countries in maternal deaths and compares unfavorably to a number of poorer countries where the ratio has declined. In 2017, the US ranked worst in MMR among the 39 industrialized nations. United States has experienced almost a 142 percent increase in MMR from 1987-2018. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every year in the US, more than 700 women die due to the pregnancy or childbirth-related complications, with 60 percent of these deaths being preventable. Within the US, MMR varies considerably, leaving large disparities across states as well as between all racial groups. This research study aims to understand the interplay of spatial and racial impacts on the variation of maternal mortality ratios within the US. The paper estimates Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) and Spatial Lag Models for MMR using cross-sectional US state data for 2012-2017, taken from CDC. The results show that the dominant root causes of high maternal mortality differ between black and white women.