There are a number of causes to the infant mortality rate in China. Overpopulation is a huge problem in China, with the country being the home to over 1.344 billion people. This causes many problems it self, such as a deep economic disparity and an enormous number of people living in extreme poverty. The economic divide also causes a great number of the population to not have access to quality health care at all. Some citizens may have never even gone to any kind of health care center in their life. For this reason, plus the Chinese culture placing women secondary to men, means that maternal health care is very rare and a persistent issue. Lack of access to affordable health care for mothers is a leading cause for infant mortality in China because it means that many mothers are giving birth in non sterile locations which can lead to many neonatal infections and infant death. Looking at the results of authors Xu, Rimpela, Jarvelin and Nieminen, the infant mortality rate is higher in female infants than in males, and even though there has been a decrease in the rate, the rate has been notably decreased more in males than in females. One explanation for this lies both in cultural norms as well as public policy. Because of the population issues, the government set regulations that each family could only have one child, and because the culture focuses more on having male children, some families may purposefully choose to allow the death of a female child so that they may have a male child. The government is working towards making health care more accessible for women so that there may be less deaths for infants, there is also huge amount of adoption agencies so that infants can be placed with families that can take care of them.
I had a difficult time finding out too much biographical information about anthropologists working in this area of study, but there are many papers I saw written out of the Department of Public Health in China that worked with a couple different areas of the topic. It’s definitely something that is a growing area of study and work though, especially in China itself.
Population, China – www.google.com/publicdata
Sex differences of infant and child mortality in China. – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7716434
Infant mortality among various nationalities in the middle part of Guizhou, China. – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9257395