The clear division of the world in the 1950s and 1960s into rich countries with low fertility and mortality and poor countries with higher fertility and mortality was used to support strongly held views that economic development was necessary for demographic change and that demographic change was necessary for economic development. Cross-sectional relationships between mortality or fertility and economic indicators have been used to argue both for and against national or international health or family planning interventions. Policymakers want increasingly to know to what extent short-run economic fluctuations result in short-run demographic fluctuations. The author addresses this question with special attention to the possible effects on mortality of the Third World economic crises of the 1980s. He examines the historical record, working backward from the recent past to periods before the demographic transition. The historical record, he concludes, does not support the existence of strong short-run responses in mortality to economic change and sometimes not even longer-term relationships. Clearly the strong cross-sectional relationship now evident between mortality and economic status must have arisen through some such long-term relationship. Economic downturns not associated with famine appear to have little short-term impact on mortality. Famines, whether associated with major economic downturns or not, appear to have major short-term effects on mortality.
Demographics,Health Monitoring&Evaluation,Adolescent Health,Early Child and Children's Health,Health Economics&Finance
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