Journal Article

What explains the decline in neonatal mortality in India in the last three decades? Evidence from three rounds of NFHS surveys

Identifying the factors that have contributed to recent declines in neonatal mortality in India may help determine which policies and programs are most likely to facilitate further reductions. We use data from the 1992–93, 2005–06, and 2015–16 National Family Health Surveys (NFHS) to examine trends in neonatal mortality in India. We use multivariable decomposition to estimate the contribution of different factors to the change in neonatal mortality in India in the last three decades. When limited to most recent births in the 1–47 months preceding the surveys, 70 percent of the decline in neonatal mortality from 1992–2016 is due to changes in utilization of maternal‐ and child‐care program factors and distribution of household, mother's, and child's characteristics. Improvement in “mother's schooling” and increase in utilization of “at least two tetanus toxoid injections” contributed the most followed by the increase in use of “at least three antenatal‐care visits” and “clean fuel for cooking.” The change in distribution of “birth order” also contributed significantly to the decline in neonatal mortality. Change in the benefits of “access to improved water,” “delivery in a medical facility,” and “mother's schooling” has led to a decline of 3 points, 2 points, and 1 point, respectively. More investments in maternal‐ and child‐health programs (including family planning) and providing clean fuel for cooking are likely to pay higher dividends.

Published in a peer-reviewed journal of the Population Council.