BMC International Health and Human Rights (Aug 2019)

Effects of the Convention on the Rights of the Child on child mortality and vaccination rates: a synthetic control analysis

  • Gary W. Reinbold

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 19, no. 1
pp. 1 – 12


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Abstract Background Scholars have long been sceptical about the effectiveness of human rights treaties in changing the behaviour of states parties and prior empirical research has often justified that scepticism. However, only a few prior studies have considered the effects of adoption of core human rights treaties on health outcomes and only one prior study has analysed the effects of adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) on children’s health outcomes. Methods In this study, we estimated the effects of CRC adoption on child mortality rates and vaccination rates in less developed countries. In particular, we compared 43 less developed countries that adopted the CRC in 1990 with synthetic control groups drawn from 21 less developed countries that adopted it after 1992. Results We find that CRC adoption may be related to additional reductions in infant and under-5 mortality rates of about 1 to 2 deaths per 1000 live births, on average, during the first three years after adoption, although those relationships are not statistically significant. And we find that CRC adoption is related to additional increases in vaccination rates for the five vaccines that we considered of about 4 to 5%, on average, during the first three years after adoption and that those relationships remain significant for up to seven years after adoption. Conclusion From a policy perspective, our results further support the effectiveness of CRC adoption in promoting children’s right to health in less developed countries. And from a research perspective, our results show the advantages of using synthetic control methods in these types of studies, because our analyses using other methods that have most commonly been used in these studies did not find any consistent, significant relationships between CRC adoption and mortality or vaccination rates.