Table of Contents
International Journal of Population Research
Volume 2013, Article ID 163292, 11 pages
Research Article

Maternal Mortality and Female Literacy Rates in Developing Countries during 1970–2000: A Latent Growth Curve Analysis

1School of Social Work, University of Texas—Arlington, 211 South Cooper Street, Arlington, Texas 76019, USA
2Department of Social Work, Kutztown University, Kutztown, PA, USA

Received 28 July 2013; Revised 13 October 2013; Accepted 15 November 2013

Academic Editor: Pranitha Maharaj

Copyright © 2013 Vijayan K. Pillai et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background. The gross longitudinal relationship between female literacy and maternal mortality ratios has not been adequately investigated even though the knowledge of the relationship is crucial for designing maternal mortality reduction programs through female literacy campaigns and improvements. The objective of the study was to examine the dynamic relationship between female literacy and mortality ratios. A longitudinal study design spanning three decades, 1970–2000, was used. Country level data on 143 nations belonging to six geographical regions for the duration 1970–2000 were secured from websites hosted by global agencies such as World Bank and the United Nations were utilized. Maternal mortality ratios (1970–2000) ranged from 147 to 271 across the six regions. The longitudinal relationship between female literacy rates and maternal mortality ratios was examined using a latent growth curve approach. The study found that rates of change in female literacy and maternal mortality ratios are negatively related. Steady rates of increase in female literacy were associated with declining maternal mortality ratios as well. We find that female literacy programs are of immense value in reducing maternal mortality ratios given their ability to yield sustained reductions in mortality levels in developing countries.