OBJECTIVE: To assess health status determinants in Brazil's Northeast states. METHODS: Study carried out based on panel data analysis of aggregated information for municipalities. Data was obtained from the United Nations Development Program Atlas of Human Development and Brazilian National Treasury Department for the years 1991 and 2000. Health status indicator was infant mortality rate and health determinants were the following variables: per capita health and sanitation expenditure; number of physicians per inhabitant; access to drinking water; fertility rate; illiteracy rate; percentage of adolescent mothers; per capita income; and Gini coefficient. RESULTS: Infant mortality rates in Northeast Brazil were reduced by 31.8%, during the period studied, slightly above the national average. However, in some states, such as Rio Grande do Norte, Bahia, Ceará and Alagoas, the reduction was more significant. This can be attributed to improvement in some indicators that are main determinants of infant mortality rate reduction: greater access to education, reduction of fertility rates, increased income, and access to drinking water. CONCLUSIONS: Brazilian states that showed greater gains in access to drinking water, education, income and reduction of fertility rates were also the ones that achieved major reductions in mortality of children under a year of age.
Infant Mortality; Socioeconomic Factors; Basic Sanitation; Health Inequalities; Ecological Studies