Women’s literacy and children’s mortality rate among Southeast Asia countries 1991-2020: a cross-sectional study

Fauzi Budi Satria, Rahayu Lubis, Yi Hsin Elsa Hsu, Usman Iqbal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Women’s literacy is often associated with the health status of family members, especially children. Unfortunately, in some regions of Southeast Asia, the rates of women’s literacy (WL) are still very low, and in these areas, children’s mortality rates (CMR) are also very high. This study aims to identify the changes and correlation between women's literacy and children’s mortality rate among Southeast Asian Countries in the last 3 decades. Methods: In this cross-sectional study, we included 11 Southeast Asian countries; Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor Leste, and Vietnam. The WL and CMR were the independent and dependent variables respectively. The CMR was measured by mortality rates in infant (IMR), neonatal (NMR), and under-fives (UFMR). We collected data for all variables from the World Bank website, and used the data from 1991 to 2020 for analysis. Kruskal–Wallis and Pearson correlation test were performed to identify the significant difference between variables and its correlation respectively. Then, we conducted linear regression analysis to identify how the WL affected the CMR in 11 Southeast Asian countries from 1991 to 2020. Results: In the last 30 years period, we found that the CMR trends in Southeast Asian countries vary. Moreover, during the same period, WL and CMR were changed significantly. Across these 11 countries, the correlation between WL and IMR was the highest (R=0.805). However, only 65% of IMR can be explained by WL ​​(R 2=0.65). Conclusion: This study found that women's literacy had a significant impact on CMR in Southeast Asian countries. However, improvement in multiple sectors including governance, economy, freedom, health system, education, and gender equality is required to help countries in this region achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals target by 2030.

Original languageEnglish
Article number178
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • child mortality
  • gender equality
  • newborn mortality
  • Regional health
  • social determinants of health
  • Southeast Asia
  • Sustainable Development Goals
  • under-five mortality
  • women’s literacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)


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