This paper examines the trends and variations in the black-white differentials in infant mortality in ten selected Southern states during the 1940–1970 period. The patterns observed from the Southern states are compared with those observed from seven selected Northern states and the country as a whole. The ratios of black to white infant mortality rates and Fein’s “time-lag” statistics are used as measures of the extent of black-white differentials.

The gaps between blacks and whites in both neonatal and postneonatal mortality rates have widened in the Southern states between 1940 and 1970. No significant differences between the Southern states and the Northern states in the extent of black-white differentials in infant mortality were observed. A positive association between variations among the Southern states in postneonatal mortality differentials and income differentials was found, while neonatal mortality differentials had a weak inverse relationship with income inequality. A series of general explanations of the observed trends and variations have been presented. Also, a detailed methodological consideration of the possible influence of artifacts of the data upon the trends and variations has been made.

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