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new jersey department of environmental protection  


Living with the Future in Mind
Goals and Indicators for New Jersey's Quality of Life
First Annual Update to the Sustainable State Project Report 2000

Indicator 9

Additional  Equity Indicators

7 - Equal Pay

8 - Legislators

Disparities in Infant Mortality

Disparities in infant mortality (deaths per 1,000 births) for the total population and the black population in New Jersey: Little recent change

  Things to think about 

According to the 1996 Blue Ribbon Panel on Black Infant Mortality Reduction, black infant mortality is not caused by any one factor. Even when variables such as income, education, maternal age, and marital status are similar, black women still deliver babies who die before age one twice as often as white women.

Despite its wealth, the United States has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the industrialized world. After decades of progress in addressing the inequities among ethnic and social groups, many basic disparities remain.


Infant mortality is commonly used as a surrogate for the overall social development of a society. In New Jersey, as in the rest of the country, the odds of survival for a baby depend in part on the baby’s color. Infant mortality rates are falling in our state, but the gap between the rate for blacks and the state average shows little change. Among black infants, mortality rates are generally about twice as high as the state average; the same is true nationally.


Our ability to provide for our children is governed, in part, by our access to economic opportunity. Infant mortality can be used as a proxy for other issues that are harder to measure, such as a lack of job opportunities, lack of upward mobility and education, reduced access to general health care services, and even for the frustration among those of us who receive fewer benefits from the state’s economy.


Impoverished communities have higher infant mortality rates. Families who live in poorer areas may more often be exposed to adverse environmental conditions, ranging from second-hand smoke to toxins, including conditions that can complicate pregnancies.


Disparities in infant mortality may be a strong indicator that we are a divided society. A divided society will always have more difficulty acting to solve its problems than one that is unified.

Knowledge Gaps

We do not have historic and consistent data for races other than black and white. Our state is more diverse than a simple black-white comparison can illustrate.

Data Source: NJ Department of Health & Senior Services

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Department of Environmental Protection
P. O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Modified: April 25, 2007

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