Household structure as a determinant of infant mortality in South Africa.
Infant mortality rates are used as indicators of a group or population's well being. A high rate indicates poor access to social services such as health care provision, and other socioeconomic factors. Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest infant mortality rates in tne world. Compared to the region as a whole, South Africa's rates are lower. However, a sudden increase in rates was noted from early 1990s (Department of Health, Medical Research Council, Macro International, 1998). Since household is the first environment that infants are exposed to, it is thus the environment that strongly influences development and survival chances of this group. The study aims at taking a closer look at several aspects of the structure of the household and how they impact on infant mortality. The study is based on data from the South African Demographic and Health Survey (SADHS) administered by the Department of Health in 1998. Aspects of household structure that are viewed as affecting infant mortality are: sex of the household head, his/her age, number of household members, and number of children under 5 years old in a household. Estimating infant mortality rate and its probability by using ordinary life tables and multiple logistic regression modeling respectively, the study found that sex of the household head does no have an impact as a determinant of infant mortality in South Africa. However, other aspects of the household structure (number of household members and number of younger children under 5 years of age) were found to determine the survival of infants. Larger households are better off in securing infant survival than smaller households.