"In the 1930s Finland was a poor country and infant mortality was high - 65 out of 1,000 babies died. But the figures improved rapidly in the decades that followed."
It's now 3/1,000.
E.g. Italy does not have baby boxes, and child mortality went from 60/1000 to 3/1000 in the last sixty years too.
This happened basically everywhere, and either cardboard boxes play a big role and are used everywhere, or the effect is quite limited.
It implies that the requirement to get prenatal care in order to receive the box played a role. EDIT: And it's not even making a strong claim about that. From the article "Mika Gissler, a professor at the National Institute for Health and Welfare in Helsinki, gives several reasons for this - the maternity box and pre-natal care for all women in the 1940s, followed in the 60s by a national health insurance system and the central hospital network."
This is the hack of the box that is not being understood here on HN. The hack isn't that its a box or that cellulose is the ideal crib material, the hack is this is the nearly ideal carrot/stick to get moms to prenatal care. There are zillions of other ways to get moms to prenatal care across the whole spectrum of human experience ranging from intensive education, shoved at army bayonet point, bureaucracy and paperwork, tax codes, legal enforcement by goons with guns, who knows what else.
The true hack, the reason this is on HACKER news, is this is an amazing intersection of minimal overall total system cost and its incredibly polite and pleasant and basically civilized.
Its like all the skinner box psychological manipulation brilliance of Zynga, but applied to lowering infant mortality rates at the absolute minimum possible cost.
Frankly I'm not surprised, as a cultural thing, Scandinavian types might not have all the answers to everything, but when they do have an answer, its inevitably always the most elegant and efficient. Health care, architecture... baby boxes... no great surprise once again they rocked it.
I wouldn't dream of saying national healthcare in finland is the same as italy or US, which appears to imply that what really happened is mostly just science marching on and general improvements in wealth.
You'll note the title is not "How did Finland reduce its infant mortality rate?" or similar, but "Why Finnish babies sleep in cardboard boxes".
It's a human interest piece more than anything else.
"The infant mortality rate in the United States showed a
consistently downward trend between 1935 and 2000, with
the rate declining from 55.7 per 1,000 live births in 1935
to 6.9 in 2000"
So Finland is doing better, but since the US has seen most of that improvement as well very little if any of it seems to be attributable to the box.