Maternal mortality, defined as the death of women within 42 days of childbirth, remains a looming global health problem well into the 21st century. It is estimated to account for 830 deaths per day, and more than 216 deaths per 100,000 live births globally (Ceschia and Horton, 2016). Maternal mortality is only the tip of an iceberg, the mass of which is maternal morbidity. In sub-Saharan Africa, the maternal mortality ratio (MMR) exceeds the rate in developed countries a century ago (Alkema et al., 2016; Loudon, 1992).1 Although maternal mortality has declined rapidly in the last two decades, it was a late start, and there was massive variation in rates of decline.2 We leverage this variation to investigate the hypothesis that political will plays a significant role, and that women have greater political will for maternal mortality reduction. Since 1990, not only has MMR fallen by 44%, but the share of women in parliament has risen from under 10% to more than 20% (Figure 1a). We study whether these trends are causally related.
Click here to read the full Academic paper published by Navarra Center for International Development on 1 May 2018.