A 2016 article in the Guardian claims that Texas has seen a doubling in the maternal mortality rate after the closure of 80 family planning centres giving obstetric and gynaecology advice to pregnant women. In the words of the article:

The rate of Texas women who died from complications related to pregnancy doubled from 2010 to 2014, a new study has found, for an estimated maternal mortality rate that is unmatched in any other state and the rest of the developed world.

Does Texas have the worst maternal mortality in the developed world?

  • Texas receives more influx from down South than any other developed country in the world, so its to be expected problems from down there just move up. Aug 24, 2016 at 22:37
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    @developerwjk Really? Have you checked whether there is any evidence at all for that assertion (eg a sudden influx of immigrants in 2011? the % of immigrants in Texas vs New Mexico/California/Arizona or anywhere in Europe?)
    – matt_black
    Aug 25, 2016 at 9:37

1 Answer 1


Here are the raw numbers claimed in the article:

From 2000 to the end of 2010, Texas’s estimated maternal mortality rate hovered between 17.7 and 18.6 per 100,000 births. But after 2010, that rate had leaped to 33 deaths per 100,000, and in 2014 it was 35.8.

The study these numbers are based on can be found here. The relevant graph was also posted to reddit here:

maternal mortality rate texas 2014 rises to 35.8

For comparison, here is the worldbank list of maternal mortality rate by country.

Countries that have a higher rate than Texas (in 2014, which is the relevant year), and their human development index from the same year:

  • Argentina: Mortality: 52, HDI: 0.836 (very high human development)

The other 48 countries with very high human development according to HDI all have a lower maternal mortality rate, usually below 10. There are also a couple of countries with high human development that have a higher maternal mortality rate than Texas, for example:

  • Malaysia: Mortality: 40, HDI: 0.779 (high human development)
  • Cuba: Mortality: 39, HDI: 0.769 (high human development)
  • Mexico: Mortality: 38, HDI: 0.756 (high human development)
  • Brazil: Mortality: 44, HDI: 0.755 (high human development)
  • Georgia: Mortality: 36, HDI: 0.754 (high human development)

The HDI is a commonly used metric to define the development status of a country, but not the only one. The IMF for example does not consider Argentina to be an advanced economy, but lists it as "emerging market and developing economy". Another categorization is the one by the CIA in the World Fact Book, which includes South Africa as developed country, which has a mortality rate of 138.

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    You are going to have to work very hard to convince us that Argentina, Mexico, Cuba or Georgia are considered 'developed countries' by any reasonable definition. Aug 21, 2016 at 19:26
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    It is worth noting that (as far as I can see), the study paper does not claim Texas is the worst in the developed world. It does say "Among 31 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries reporting maternal mortality data, the United States would rank 30th, ahead of only Mexico", and that Texas is worse than the US average. I suspect the Guardian is using OECD membership as their definition of "developed" in this claim.
    – Oddthinking
    Aug 21, 2016 at 20:34
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    @Oddthinking That seems to be a claim made by the Guardian, but I don't it's based on OECD membership, as Mexico (mortality of 38) is in the OECD. Maybe they do use the IMF "advanced economies" definition, or it's just some vague definition they are using like North America + Western Europe.
    – tim
    Aug 21, 2016 at 20:57
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    So that means it is true?
    – gerrit
    Aug 22, 2016 at 10:18
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    That WorldBank list isn't exactly putting Texas in great company: they are worse than China (not quite first world) and Moldova (just about the poorest country in Europe). They have triple the mortality of EU members. Wow!
    – matt_black
    Aug 22, 2016 at 16:17

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