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The puzzle of Muslim advantage in child survival in India

  • Bhalotra, Sonia
  • Valente, Christine
  • van Soest, Arthur

The socioeconomic status of Indian Muslims is, on average, considerably lower than that of upper-caste Hindus. Muslims nevertheless exhibit substantially higher child survival rates, and have done for decades. This paper analyses this seeming puzzle. A decomposition of the survival differential confirms that some compositional effects favour Muslims but that, overall, differences in characteristics and especially the Muslim deficit in parental education predict a Muslim disadvantage. The results of this study contribute to a recent literature that debates the importance of socioeconomic status (SES) in determining health and survival. They augment a growing literature on the role of religion or culture as encapsulating important unobservable behaviours or endowments that influence health, indeed, enough to reverse the SES gradient that is commonly observed.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Health Economics.

Volume (Year): 29 (2010)
Issue (Month): 2 (March)
Pages: 191-204

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:29:y:2010:i:2:p:191-204
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505560

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