The Politics of Children's Survival

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The central concern of this pioneering study is the high rate of child mortality worldwide and the prospects for its reduction. Taking as his major focus socioeconomic factors and their effect on children's survival, George Kent asks not only what technical interventions might be undertaken within meager health budgets, but also why are those budgets so inadequate? He examines the social and political roots of child mortality around the world and finds that the problem arises from widespread powerlessness in the populations of less developed countries. Thus, he argues, remedies should center on strategies of empowerment, designed in such a way that their benefits persist long after the intervention has ended. Following an introductory chapter which describes overall patterns of children's mortality, the author examines the individual and household factors which contribute to the problem and the programmatic responses associated with these factors. Subsequent chapters explore child survival in relation to larger societal issues, discussing in turn food, poverty, war, repression, and population as they affect child mortality. Kent then turns his attention to strategies for child survival that are sensitive to these social factors. Separate chapters address alternative designs of social systems, the idea of viewing children as a form of human capital, the problem of motivating the politically powerful to support child-survival work, rethinking the meaning of national development, and the challenge of planning for children's survival in concrete, site-specific situations. Finally, Kent discusses the potential of national and international law and institutions for improving children's prospects. An ideal supplemental text for courses in economic development and political economy, this book is also essential reading for policymakers and relief organization managers concerned with the widespread problem of child mortality.