Data | The highs and lows in States' infant mortality rate rankings

The IMR of top-ranked States such as Kerala and Delhi were comparable to high-income and upper-middle-income countries such as the U.S. and China

October 26, 2021 11:24 pm | Updated 11:25 pm IST

Representational image

Representational image

The infant mortality rate (IMR, deaths per 1,000 live births of children under one year of age) improved in all the States between 2014 and 2019. However, wide variations exist among the States in the pace of decline. It is important to note that States with a relatively low IMR to start with find it difficult to improve, while States with a relatively high IMR find it easier to do so. Thus, reduction of IMR in terms of absolute value cannot be used to gauge the performance of the States.

Therefore, the IMR of all the States were compared with 185 countries and their global ranks were computed. In 2019, Kerala fared the best with an IMR of 6 and a global ranking of 53 (52 of 185 countries had a better IMR). Kerala improved 21 places from its 2014 global ranking.

On the other hand, in 2019, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh had relatively poor IMRs — 41 and 46, respectively, similar to Sudan, Afghanistan, and Niger. Their global ranks in 2019 fell by one and two places from 2014, respectively.

How to read the tables

The tables list the IMR of major States and the rank of the State among 185 countries in 2009, 2014 and 2019. For instance, in 2019, Haryana's IMR was 27 and its global rank was 143. It had improved by seven places from 2014 (IMR: 36). It had jumped 19 places from 2009 (IMR: 51). Countries with an IMR similar to Haryana's in 2019 were Rwanda (ranked 141) and Eritrea (ranked 149).

The rankings include 185 countries and 21 major Indian States. So, in actuality, the rankings computed are out of 206 regions (wherein each Indian State is considered an entity).

State-wise IMR (2009)


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In 2019, Kerala's IMR of 12 was the best among major States in the country and its global rank was 65. It was the only State to feature in the top-100 among States.

State-wise IMR (2014)


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While Kerala's IMR in 2014 did not change compared to 2009, it was still the best-performing State in the country. However, since its IMR was stagnant, the rank fell to 74. Again, it was the only State to feature among the top-100 countries.

State-wise IMR (2019)


The IMR of top-ranked States such as Kerala and Delhi were comparable to high-income and upper-middle-income countries such as the U.S. and China. In contrast, U.P. and M.P.'s rates were similar to poor-income countries such as Sudan and Afghanistan. Moreover, the global ranks of Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, U.P. and M.P. in 2019 fell from 2014, indicating a relatively slow pace of improvement in IMR.

On the other hand, the global ranks of Kerala, Delhi and J&K increased by over 20 places, indicating a faster pace of reduction in IMR. States such as Gujarat, Haryana and Karnataka were middling.

Kerala improved 21 places in rankings despite only improving 6 points in IMR, while Uttarakhand's IMR improved by the same number of points and its global ranking fell by one spot. This shows that improving from a lower base is tougher and vice-versa.

Source: SRS bulletins, World Bank

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