The Cuban revolution and infant mortality: A synthetic control approach

Vincent Geloso, Jamie Bologna Pavlik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The Cuban government often boasts that the country's infant mortality rate has been low and falling since Fidel Castro's revolution in 1959. However, because many Latin American countries have experienced similar decreases, and because Cuba historically enjoyed lower infant mortality rates than the rest of Latin America, it is unclear whether the government should get credit. We use the fact that Cuba underwent momentous and unique political changes to consider the effect of Castro's regime on infant mortality. We employ a synthetic control method to ascertain how much of the reduction, if any, can be attributed to the regime. We find that in the first decade of the regime, infant mortality increased relative to the counterfactual, but that—after the introduction of Soviet subsidies—infant mortality partially reverted to trend. To measure the effect of the subsidies, we run a second synthetic control test concerning the collapse of the Soviet Union and the accompanying end of the subsidies. This control suggests that the subsidies played no important role.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101376
JournalExplorations in Economic History
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • Castro regime
  • Cuba
  • Health economics
  • Infant mortality


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