Hindu-Muslim differentials in child mortality in India: the role of discrimination against females

Michel Guillot, University of Pennsylvania
Keera Allendorf, University of Michigan

In India, Muslim children exhibit lower child mortality than Hindu children, in spite of the fact that, on average, their mothers are poorer and less educated -- characteristics typically associated with higher child mortality. Using data from the National Family and Health Survey (NFHS-1, -2 and -3), we seek explanations for this paradox. We pay particular attention to the hypothesis that this paradox may be explained by lower son preference among Muslims. Indeed, lower son preference could produce a more typical pattern of sex differentials in mortality among Muslims and generate lower child mortality among them at the national level, compensating for their lower socio-economic status. Other relevant explanations are evaluated.

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Presented in Session 183: Mortality differentials in multi-ethnic societies