The last three decades have witnessed substantial reductions in childhood mortality in most developing nations. Despite this encouraging picture, analysis of WFS and DHS survey data shows that socioeconomic disparities in survival chances have not narrowed between the 1970s and 1980s, and in some cases, have widened. Changes in mother's education and father's occupation contributed only modestly to secular declines in mortality. In most countries studied, no more than 20 per cent of the national trend could be accounted for by compositional improvements. The median contributions of improvements in mother's education and father's occupation were ten and eight per cent, respectively.