Measurement of child mortality in Zimbabwe has not generated the controversy that has surrounded fertility measurement. It is widely accepted that child mortality has been declining for several decades, and that it has reached levels that are quite low by the standards of sub-Saharan populations. Thus according to a recent UNICEF review (Hill et al., 1997) the under-five mortality rate (U5MR, the probability of dying by age five per 1,000 live births) halved from 1960 to 1990, reaching a level of 80 per thousand in 1990. This rate of decline is similar to the rate of decline in Kenya, through Zimbabwe than in neighboring Botswana, through somewhat faster than in Zambia or Lesotho.
Although it is widely accepted that child mortality has declined Zimbabwe, little is known about the precise pattern of the decline, or about differentials between populations subgroups, or about the roles of various development-related changes on the decline. In this paper, data are used from the 1987-88 and 1994 Zimbabwe Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) to explore questions about the timing of change, about differentials, and about the factors associated with change, in particular the relative contributions of improvements in education versus the effects of declining fertility. The impact of the HIP epidemic on child mortality in the most recent period is also considered.