This website is best viewed on modern browsers (including Internet Explorer 8.0 or higher, Chrome and Safari). Please update your browser for the best experience. X
UNICEF STATISTICS
  UNICEF Data: Monitoring the Situation of Children and Women
About this area This part of the website presents the most up-to-date data and analysis on the situation of children.

Latest publication

Statistics by Country
Current Status + Progress

In 2015, the world begins working toward a new global development agenda, seeking to achieve, by 2030, new targets set out in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The proposed SDG target for child mortality aims to end, by 2030, preventable deaths of newborns and children under 5 years of age, with all countries aiming to reduce neonatal mortality to at least as low as 12 per 1,000 live births and under-5 mortality to at least as low as 25 per 1,000 live births. Source

How many children under the age of five could be saved if the world achieves this agenda? To find out, we can compare the outcomes under three different scenarios:

  1. If momentum is lost – If levels of under-five mortality for each country remain at today’s levels, 94 million children under the age of 5 will die between 2016 and 2030.
  2. If current trends are maintained – If countries’ 2000-2015 rates of decline in under-five mortality are sustained, the lives of almost 26 million of these 94 million children will be saved between 2016 and 2030.
  3. If the SDG target is achieved – If each country lowers its under-five mortality to 25 per 1,000 live births or better, 56 million children under the age of five will die over the next 15 years. This means that 38 million more children under age 5 will survive than if momentum is lost.

Both the rate and number of child deaths will look very different in 2030 – the target year of the SDGs – under these three scenarios. In the coming years, the only expected under-five population growth in the world will occur in the regions with the highest remaining levels of under-five mortality – Eastern and Southern Africa and, particularly, West and Central Africa. That means that, even if current under-five mortality rates remain constant in these regions, the absolute number of child deaths will rise in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2015, 5.9 million children will die before the age of five globally; based on current population projections, 6.6 million children will die worldwide in 2030 if rates remain at 2015 levels.

If instead current trends are maintained, 3.6 million children under the age of five will die worldwide in 2030. And if each country meets the SDG target, 2.4 million children will die in 2030.

If the SDG target is achieved, under-five mortality would drop much faster over the next 15 years than if current rates are maintained
Projected global under-five mortality rate (deaths per 1,000 live births) and the number of under-five deaths under various scenarios, 2015-2030.

Note: Calculations are based on unrounded numbers and displayed rounded numbers therefore may not sum up. The rising rate and increasing number of under-five deaths in 1) Losing momentum are the result of the growing size of the under-five population and the shift of the population share towards high-mortality regions over the next 15 years.

Source: United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (UN IGME), as published in UNICEF: Committing to Child Survival: A promise renewed-Progress report 2015, UNICEF, New York 2015.

 

Reaching the SDG target for under-five mortality will require faster progress, particularly in high mortality countries. Today, 79 countries have an under-five mortality rate that exceeds the 25 per 1,000 target set for 2030. 32 of these 79 countries will reach that target if they can sustain their current rates of progress.

The remaining 47 countries will need to accelerate progress in order to reach the target. The acceleration needed to reach the goals in those countries is substantial – 30 countries must at least double their current rate of reduction. Eleven of those 30 must at least triple their current rate of reduction. If current trends continue, 21 countries would achieve the target between 2031 and 2050 and another 26 would achieve the target sometime after 2050.

If current trends continue, dozens of countries will miss the SDG target by a wide margin
Projected under-five mortality rate in 2030 in countries that are expected to miss the SDG target of 25 deaths per 1,000 live births by more than 10 deaths per 1,000 live births, if current trends continue*

Note: *Countries shown with 10,000 or more births in 2015.

Source: United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (UN IGME), as published in UNICEF: Committing to Child Survival: A promise renewed-Progress report 2015, UNICEF, New York 2015.

Current progress must be accelerated to reach the SDG target, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa
Achievement of the SDG target on child mortality by year, by country, if current trends continue in all countries. Upper map: Under-five mortality target; lower map: Neonatal mortality target.

Source: United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (UN IGME), as published in UNICEF: Committing to Child Survival: A promise renewed-Progress report 2015, UNICEF, New York 2015.

This map does not reflect a position by UNICEF on the legal status of any country or territory or the delimitation of any frontiers. The dotted line represents approximately the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir agreed upon by India and Pakistan. The final status of Jammu and Kashmir has not yet been agreed upon by the parties. The final boundary between the Sudan and South Sudan has not yet been determined. The final status of the Abyei area has not yet been determined. - See more at: http://data.unicef.org/child-survival/under-five#sthash.ShsqfgzO.dpuf

Recent Resources
Sort by: Date | Type

Levels and Trends in Child Mortality 2015

This report presents the group’s latest estimates of under-five, infant and neonatal mortality up to the year 2015, and assesses progress at the country, regional and global levels. The report also provides an overview on the estimation methods used for child mortality indicators.

 

Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed 2015

Since its initiation, A Promise Renewed has focused on promoting two goals: first, keeping the promise of Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 4 – to reduce the under-five mortality rate by two thirds, between 1990 and 2015; and second, continuing the fight beyond 2015, until no child or mother dies from preventable causes.  By focusing on priority actions and core principles, countries are already achieving progress, bending the curve on child mortality and moving towards a world where no mother or child dies from a preventable cause. As we begin the work of the Sustainable Development Goals, maintaining this momentum must be our top priority

rn

 

Notes on the Data

DEFINITION OF INDICATORS

Under-five mortality rate: Probability of dying between birth and exactly 5 years of age, expressed per 1,000 live births.
Infant mortality rate: Probability of dying between birth and exactly 1 year of age, expressed per 1,000 live births.

Neonatal mortality rate: Probability of dying during the first month of life, expressed per 1,000 live births.

DATA SOURCES AND METHODOLOGY

If each country had a single source of high-quality data covering the last few decades, reporting on child mortality levels and trends would be straightforward. But few countries do, and the limited availability of high-quality data over time for many countries makes generating accurate estimates of child mortality a considerable challenge.

Nationally representative estimates of child mortality can be derived from several sources, including civil registration, censuses and sample surveys. Demographic surveillance sites and hospital data are excluded because they are rarely representative. The preferred source of data is a civil registration system that records births and deaths on a continuous basis, collects information as events occur and covers the entire population. If registration coverage is complete and the systems function efficiently, the resulting child mortality estimates will be accurate and timely. However, many countries remain without viable or fully functioning vital registration systems that accurately record all births and deaths—only around 60 countries have such systems. Therefore, household surveys, such as the UNICEF-supported Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys and the US Agency for International Development–supported Demographic and Health Surveys, which ask women about the survival of their children, are the basis of child mortality estimates for most developing countries.

The United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (UN IGME) seeks to compile all available national-level data on child mortality, including data from vital registration systems, population censuses, household surveys and sample registration systems. To estimate the under-five mortality trend series for each country, a statistical model is fitted to data points that meet quality standards established by IGME and then used to predict a trend line that is extrapolated to a common reference year, set at 2013 for the estimates presented here. Infant mortality rates are generated by either applying a statistical model or transforming under-five mortality rates based on model life tables. Neonatal mortality rates are produced using a statistical model that uses under-five mortality rates as input. These methods provide a transparent and objective way of fitting a smoothed trend to a set of observations and of extrapolating the trend from 1960 to the present.

A peer-reviewed collection of articles that makes a vital contribution to transparency on UN IGME's methodology for child mortality estimation.

Topics include: an overview of the child mortality estimation methodology developed by UN IGME, methods used to adjust for bias due to AIDS, estimation of sex differences in child mortality, and more. The collection was produced with support from UNICEF and the independent technical advisory group of IGME. Read more.

CHANGE IN ESTIMATION PROCESS

The UN IGME continually seeks to improve its methods. Since 2013, estimates and projections of under-five mortality have been produced using the Bayesian B-splines bias-adjusted model, referred to as the B3 model.  Compared with the previously applied Loess estimation approach the B3 model better accounts for data errors, including biases and sampling and nonsampling errors in the data. It can better capture short-term fluctuations in the under-five mortality rate and its annual rate of reduction and thus is better able to account for evidence of acceleration in the decline of under-five mortality from new surveys. Validation exercises show that the B3 model also performs better in short-term projections.

Estimates of infant mortality rates are generated by applying the B3 model for countries with high-quality vital registration data. For other countries, infant mortality rates are derived from under-five mortality rates using model life tables that contain known regularities in age patterns of child mortality. This approach ensures that the internal relationships of the two indicators are consistent with established norms. Estimates of neonatal mortality rates are produced using a statistical model that uses under-five mortality rates as an input. These methods provide a transparent and objective way of fitting a smoothed trend to a set of observations and of extrapolating the trend to the present.

In 2012 the UN IGME produced sex-specific estimates of the under-five mortality rate for the first time. In many countries fewer sources provide data disaggregated by sex than for both sexes combined. So the UN IGME uses the available data by sex to estimate a time trend in the sex ratio (male–female) of child mortality rather than estimating child mortality trends by sex directly from reported mortality levels by sex. Since 2013 a Bayesian model developed by the UN IGME has been used to estimate sex ratios of child mortality, with a focus on identifying countries with outlying levels or trends.

More details on the data used in deriving estimates are available in CME Info http://www.childmortality.org.

KEY REFERENCES

  1. A detailed description of the B3 methodology is available at: http://arxiv.org/abs/1309.1602 [PDF] and http://imstat.org/aoas/next_issue.html  Alkema, L. and New, J.R. (forthcoming). ‘Global estimation of child mortality using a Bayesian B-spline bias-reduction method’, Annals of Applied Statistics.

  2. Full details of the methodology used in the estimation of child mortality for 2013 are available in the PLOS Medicine Collection on Child Mortality Estimation methods (www.ploscollections.org/childmortalityestimation).
  3. For changes to methods used for the 2013 estimates, refer to UN IGME Inter-agency Levels and Trends in Child Mortality: Report 2014. 

  4. For changes to data and methods used for the 2010 estimates click here.
  5. For detailed information on the methodology used for the 2009 estimates, click Estimation Methods used by the United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation.
  6. The full details of the methodology used in the estimation of infant and under-five mortality rates for 2006 are available in the following working paper: UNICEF, WHO, The World Bank and UN Population Division, Levels and Trends of Child Mortality in 2006: Estimates developed by the Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation’, New York, 2007. Working Paper [PDF]

Other references include:

Hill, K., et al., Trends in Child Mortality in the Developing World: 1960-1996 [Full publication [zip]

Alkema, L. et al., ‘National, regional, and global sex ratios of infant, child, and under-5 mortality and identification of countries with outly­ing ratios: a systematic assessment’, The Lancet Global Health, vol. 2, 9, 1 September 2014, pp. e521-e530, DOI: 10.1016/S2214-109X(14)70280-3

United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation, Levels and Trends in Child Mortality: Report 2014.

United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation, Levels and Trends in Child Mortality: Report 2013

United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation, Levels and Trends in Child Mortality: Report 2012.

United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation, Levels and Trends in Child Mortality: Report 2011

United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation, Levels and Trends in Child Mortality: Report 2010.